Iron Man

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 01, 2006
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Andy Irons lead the Vans Triple Crown charge with speed and agility at Ali‘i Beach Park
Andy Irons lead the Vans Triple Crown charge with speed
and agility at Ali‘i Beach Park

Aloha, surfers and beach-goers!

We’re smack dab in the middle of the Vans Triple Crown: The O’Neill World Cup at the famed Sunset Beach. We’ve had some “fun size” surf, meaning nothing over 8 feet. And yet, no matter what the size (even if it does matter) these pros make any surf look fun.

While I was watching the OP Pro at Ali’i Beach Park on a 2-4-foot day with sideshore mushy lefts, I imagined no contest was on ... empty waves with the same conditions. First, I would not have paddled out. Second, if I did it would’ve been a struggle to get much speed and do a decent turn. It did not look fun or promising.

Now, back to reality ... my jaw dropped! The pros were turning lemons into lemonade, mush into monster moves, slop into speed. The pros took these waves and went from blasé to blazing. All of a sudden, Ali’i looked like a blast. Of course, part of this revelation was my oversized imagination. I pictured myself out there feeling what I was seeing ... and there’s just no way. I can only imagine what the best surfers in the world get to experience on their boards. Wow!

Andy Irons won the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the OP Pro
Andy Irons won the first jewel of the Triple Crown,
the OP Pro

There’s one surf dude in particular who I’d like to surf as well as - along with about every other surfer on planet Earth. He’s the guy who’s leading the charge again for a Triple Crown title ... for his fourth time! He’s the guy most know as the most fierce competitor on the tour. He’s the man with an iron will, and he’s got the results and the name to back it up: Meet Andy Irons.

Andy won the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown, the OP Pro Tuesday Nov. 21. The waves were not classic Haleiwa, to say the least, but no matter, pro is pro. The thing is ... A.I. can surf anything! From the left-breaking blue cathedrals of Tahiti and the death-defying barrels at Pipe, to the long reeling rights of perfect Mexico or J Bay - Irons can dig deep with unsurpassed power yet fly like a bird above the waves.

With three world titles (in a row), three Triple Crowns and three Pipeline Masters titles, most would be quite satisfied ...

but victory just makes Andy hungrier. He’s a passionate competitor with freakish talent who hates to lose - yikes! Now you can see why A.I. really was the only human alive that could ever take on the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater - and win - wave for wave, title for title.

Andy Irons is Hawaii’s greatest competitive surfer ever.

Otherwise: For the long-range forecast, it seems as though the bigger, more west-angled swells are getting nearer - perfect timing for the Rip Curl Pipe Masters. This is the grand finale of them all - the big tubular finish to a long year on the 2006 World Tour. The boys have spent 10 months on the road and will have earned their time off. But they won’t - they can’t - relax until the Rip Curl Pipe is pau. I’m sure there are more than a few guys who harbor secret (and not-so-secret) fears of Pipe. No way can you win or gain true respect unless you go all out. That means risking your life. But hey, risk little ... win little!

I’ll see you there safe on the beach for that event, and back here next week in MidWeek. For those who may not know, the Vans Triple Crown status of ON, OFF or STANDBY will be made public by 7 a.m. every day at 596-SURF, 638-RUSH and SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM

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