Crowning Glory

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 23, 2005
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Three-time world champion Andy Irons (third from left) clinched his third Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters title after defeating (from left) Kalani Chapman, younger brother Bruce Irons and Aussie Mick Fanning
Three-time world champion Andy Irons (third from
left) clinched his third Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters
title after defeating (from left) Kalani Chapman,
younger brother Bruce Irons and Aussie Mick Fanning

Aloha and merry Christmas, surfers.

What a season for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing! What a Ripcurl Pipeline Masters! These epic events were given the best gift they could ask for - big, perfect waves!

The greatest show on surf was completed last Saturday in solid 6-foot barrels both left and right. Tradewinds blew through sunny skies and tubes galore! How sweet it was.

Indeed, the Vans Triple Crown is the perfect finish of the entire Fosters ASP World Surfing Tour. All the pros will tell you - the Triple Crown is the most respected title next to a World Title. That’s pretty amazing when you compare Hawaii to the great venues of the “Dream Tour” like Tahiti, Africa, Brazil, France, Fiji, Australia, Spain, Japan and California. However, when you really stop to think of it:

1) The Triple Crown is the only “series” of its kind.

2) The locations of Haleiwa, Sunset and Pipeline are simply legendary.

3) Hawaii delivers BIG waves ... and we all know “SIZE matters,” especially in this sport.

4) There’s awe and respect for the birthplace of our beloved sport of kings: Hawaii.

The use of the Internet to cover these surfing events live as they happen has added a fresh new dimension to the sport. In the past, we had to rely on newspapers and TV to learn briefly who won. Then we got our surf mags months later to add quality images and perspective. Now we have our eyes and ears on the pulse of surfing as it beats! Millions log on as the surfers drop in. It’s added energy to our sport and to its spectators. I love it. I mean, our sport is all about energy - including the waves we ride on.

The business side is energized, too! The live Webcasts are changing the method of marketing for big surf business. There’s more money given to marketing anytime you increase viewers and, wow, do we have viewers -worldwide. Millions logged on to watch the Pipe Masters! It was another record year. Watch it continue to grow, too. It’s just the beginning. If the Web casts can turn surfing into a better “spectator sport,” we’ll see better money like the mainstream sports. And, for surfing pros who risk their lives doing what they love the most, it is certainly about time. They deserve it.

Indeed, it was Andy Irons who said it best when asked what winning the Triple Crown and the Pipe Masters for the third time meant to him. The first words out of his mouth were: “Yeah, I definitely wanna dedicate this win to Malik, who we lost this year (at Pipe) ... this is for him.

And to Sunny (Garcia) and Luke (Egan), two of my favorite surfers and heroes who showed me the ropes from the beginning ... they’re going to be greatly missed.” Words from a champion spoken like a champion - with gratitude and humility. Andy’s learned at a young age the importance of sacrifice and honoring those who come before them.

Both these amazing athletes just retired after this Pipe event. There are 40 years of pro surfing power between Luke Egan and Sunny Garcia. Amazingly they both were in the same semi-final heat and both were eliminated by Andy and Bruce Irons! So they both came in together. It was emotional ... a seminal moment of transition between surfing’s past and its future. Andy didn’t miss a beat.

I love this sport and its people! So much more to come! Thank you for being here with me and MidWeek the weekend. I’ll be sending you Surf News from my San Diego “Hollow-Day,” so be here next week ... stoked!

I’m GQ dropping in 4 U!

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