Mr. Iron Will

Gary Kewley
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Friday - August 12, 2005
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Wussup, wave riders!

Whether going left or right, big or small, Andy Irons
rules the waves of the world, here at Teahupoo

Wait a minute … is this really the middle of August? Yikes! One more juicy south swell before summer’s over would be much appreciated by the entire surf community. There’s actually quite a bit of winter storm action “downunder,” but we’re missing a key ingredient — wind direction. Those “Southern Hemi” waves we ride are created by wind “pointed” in our direction from up to 5,000 miles away! These winds must blow our way for quite a distance in order to develop over time! This distance wind blows over the ocean in one direction and is known as a “fetch” of wind … So will someone please “fetch” us some surf soon? Lex Brodie will be stoked … Thank you, very much!

Well, what the heck, while I’m on the subject of how surf gets here, why not talk about waves? They are very cool. It’s incredible to think that something we can’t even see “creates” waves. That something is air — yes, air — and this is one case where I’m not filled with hot air. The main thing is air moves — and rather quickly in storms. Traveling air “rubs off” onto the surface of the sea, literally transferring its energy into waves.

Waves move, too, of course. Waves move away from their original source — their birth place, a storm — and then journey all the way until they reach their “home in the islands.” But did you ever wonder how waves actually move? It’s amazing.

The waves we see are not really moving forward … I kid you not! It’s a mirage, an illusion. Water is not being transferred like it seems. If you put your rubber ducky on the surface of the open ocean it would just bob straight up and down (for the most part) as each successive wave rolled by. You see, the H20 water molecules are not … I repeat … are not sticking to the wave your eyes are watching. Those little dudes are staying behind. Waves carry energy, not water, from one place to the next. If this seems crazy, grab a piece of carpet then flick it up and down and you’ll watch a “carpet wave” propagate from one end to the other. Every strand will be right where it began. It’s the same with ocean waves except water is obviously “deeper” than your carpet so the energy movement is circular. But the idea is the same. I’ll cover more curves down the line ’cause there’s lots more to the strange yet beautiful moving objects we call waves.

Andy Irons at Huntington Beach in July, where
he won top honors

Now onto those who ride waves — for a living! Many surfers know that our own world champ Andy Irons is the best surfer of the last several years. He’s on his way to possibly winning his fourth consecutive world title. He’s currently ranked No. 2 right behind Kelly Slater. But many might overlook his latest victory because it was “outside” the WCT (World Championship Tour). It’s called the U.S. Open and it happened recently at one of the most crowded beaches in the world, Huntington Beach in Southern California. Tens of thousands go to be a part of this “surf circus.” It’s really kind of a surf culture/party event with some pro surfing thrown in for legitimacy. What’s the point? AI beat the boogers out of the other contestants in 1- to 3-foot slop conditions. Still, what’s the point? I’m bragging on Mr. “Iron Will” … Andy is known to be one of the most g-narly big wave rippers. This champ has won the most honored Triple Crown and Pipe Masters — more than once. He’s taken every pro out at the death-defying spot called Teahupoo in Tahiti, again more than once. He charges 20-foot plus Waimea. Most pros acknowledge that the better and heavier the waves are, the better Andy surfs. He’s a comp freak — he’s gotta win. Now back to Huntington and the Honda U.S. Open. Many competitors are shorter and lighter than 6- foot Irons, and they’re used to surfing bad beach-break waves. Still, Andy’s will to win even under these conditions was enough to earn him $30K and the top honors. This proves again that the world champ is in a world-class league of his own. The world’s best, Ultimate Irons, is the most versatile and adaptable surfer living today.

Pray for surf … please! I’ll see you next weekend here in MidWeek! I’m GQ dropping in for you!

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