On Tuesday 2nd November the surfing world was stunned and shocked as Legendary Pro Surfer Andy Irons past away in his hotel room in Texas. The 3x world champ was to ill to compete in the Rip Curl Pro Search in Porta Rica and was on his way home to Hawaii. Andy past away after batterling with dengue fever. Just 2 months after winning his 20th ASP contest. Andy wife was 7 months pregnant with there first child.
This is a tribute to live and times to one of the true legends of surfing and the only man to ever really stop Kelly.
The Official Billabong press realise: The world of surfing mourns an incredibly sad loss today with the news that Hawaii’s Andy Irons has died. Andy was a beloved husband, and a true champion. Irons, 32, withdrew from a professional surfing event in Puerto Rico last weekend due to illness and passed away during a layover en-route to his home in Kauai, Hawaii. He had reportedly been battling with dengue fever, a viral disease.
At this time the family thanks his friends and fans for their support, and asks that the community respect its privacy. The family also asks to not be contacted so their focus can remain on one another during this time of profound loss.
Andy Irons was born on the 24th July 1978. Irons grew up surfing on the dangerous and shallow reefs of the North Shore in Kauai, Hawaii. Over the course of his professional career, he won three world titles (2002, 2003, 2004), three Quiksilver Pro France titles (2003, 2004, 2005), two Rip Curl Pro Search titles (2006 and 2007) and 20 elite tour victories including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times from 2002-2006. On September 3, 2010 he won the Billabong Pro in Tahiti. He and his family hosted the Annual Irons Brothers Pinetrees Classic, a contest for youngsters. The Governor of Hawaii declared February 13 forever “Andy Irons Day”.
Andy is the only surfer to ever have won at every event on the ASP World Tour. Even at home in Hawaii he manages to dominate the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. AI tops the list of most Triple Crown prize money won cumulatively with $271,725, and has the single season prize money record with $59,000, which he won in 2006. Irons tied with Sunny Garcia for most Triple Crown event wins, seven total (four at Pipe, one at Sunset and two at Haleiwa). Furthermore, Andy and Derek Ho are the only two surfers to win at all three venues of the Triple Crown. In addition, Andy’s battles with Slater at the Pipe Masters are epic, legendary duels that give us chicken skin whenever mentioned.
Andy began his days surfing the breaks around his island home of Kauai. He was lucky enough to have the beach that close to his house it was basically an extended backyard. If those things weren’t enough to inspire his surfing, than a younger brother of sixteen months by the name of Bruce certainly pushed his competitive spirit into overdrive.
While competing the WQS and during his early days on the WCT, Andy created quite a stir due to his confident, in your face and often reckless attitude. He was labeled “too cool” and “arrogant” and quickly had the reputation as the WCT rebel. Not many people thought he would be surfing’s next big thing.These days it is that same underlying aggression which he has learnt to control and use to his advantage that simply makes him so hard to beat.
It’s quite obvious Andy dominated 2002, 2003 and 2004. With his winning streak that started at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia in 2002 where he defeated 2000 World Champion Sunny Garcia, and continued onto his favorite Tahitian venue, Teahupo’o for a superior ratings lead, Andy was looking good and fast becoming hard to stop. His run continued by locking in a runner-up finish in France, before claiming another victory at the following Billabong Pro competition in Spain. He only entered one WQS event, but reached the final of the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa. His consistency and talent prevailed and the Hawaiian secured his world title at the second to last WCT at Sunset Beach. Still not content, Andy pushed on and won the year ending Xbox Pipeline Masters, and with it clinched the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title. While his obvious focus, dedication and string of impressive results say that he could of done it with his eyes closed, Andy admits that he definitely felt pressure from the stream of talented young blood like Joel Parkinson and the rest of the Aussie posse. Ironically, these feelings of uncertainty worked in Andy’s favor because no matter how well everyone else was surfing, there’s no way he was settling for second best.
’03 proved to be another golden year for Irons. He duplicated his clean sweep for the second consecutive year by claiming the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) world title making him the 2003 World Champion. Irons, pushed six-time world champion Kelly Slater to the very last heat of the year in a grueling nail-biter and sealed his victory in the final seconds when he took first and Slater took fourth. He is the only surfer to ever win all three titles two years in a row. He also won five of 12 2003 WCT events, managed to get inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach in August 2003, captured the Surfer Poll award for the second year and continues his legacy with his second consecutive world title.
Andy was Mr Consistency in ‘04 with results reading 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 5, 33, 1, 3, 9,17. His continuous motivation and performances sending shudders down fellow competitors’ spines, who often noted that even when Andy needed an 8 or 9 to win with only minutes to spare, he can often jag that set wave or more frighteningly turn an ordinary wave into a winner. Quite simply Andy has dominated world surfing for the past three years. He has pulled away from the pack and with 2 strong placings for the opening Australian leg of 2005, he doesn’t look like slowing down.
In 2009, Irons withdrew from doing the full ASP World Tour season for personal reasons, though he did participate in a few events. He requested a wildcard entry for the 2010 ASP World Tour season, which was granted by ASP President Wayne Bartholomew. As a result, Irons did not have to re-qualify in 2010 via the World Qualifying Series (WQS). Irons won the Billabong Pro Tahiti 2010.
He was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California in 2008.
After taking a sabbatical from full-time competitive surfing in 2009, three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons is back amongst the elite this season and is rested and ready to do some damage on this year’s ASP World Tour. With a swath of accomplishments almost too long to list, Irons has established himself as a devastating force amongst the world’s finest surfers and is without a doubt one of the best competitive surfers of all time.
A major faucet of Irons’ amazing professional career was the intense rivalry between the Iconic Hawaiian and nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater while the two ferociously battled one another throughout the opening decade of the millenium. With both of the juggernauts scheduled to compete this season, 2010 could be another year where surfing’s titans clash for the label of world’s best.
Andy epitomizes the all or nothing attitude. He also takes it wave-by-wave and heat-by-heat, instead of panicking about the bigger picture. Underneath is also a competitive aggression that still sometimes bubbles over but constantly makes him so dominant in the water. This attitude and strength of mind throughout his career has propelled him to earn his three coveted ASP World Champion titles. Along with these Irons was named Surfer Magazine’s, 2002 Surfer of the Year at the Surfer Poll Awards, breaking Kelly Slater’s nine-year hold on the honor. He managed to uphold the title in 2003 for the second year in a row. Amongst the awards, trophies, titles and reputation is a man who holds the key to competitive surfing in the palm of his hand, where will he take everyone else?
Joel Parkinson said this about one of his best friends.
“Wes [Berg, Joel’s trainer] rang me yesterday morning. I had two missed calls back-to-back from Wes so I knew something must be up. When he finally got me he asked if the kids were around. I told him they were and he told me it was best I just walk away from them for a second. Then he told me what had happened. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I went white and I bawled. Right there on the spot. But then I went into shock and I was in this state of shock all day yesterday. A bunch of us went up to the surf club at Snapper yesterday afternoon and had a few beers and cried and told Andy stories. We were talking about when we went over to the desert in West Oz last year to surf and were there for Occ’s birthday. We surfed that righthander, just me and Andy out surfing together. Then we had to sleep in a two-man tent head-to-toe and he complained the whole time because he hated camping. There were so many memories. I remember flipping a chocolate bar in Japan with him for priority in a heat we had together back in 2003. But that was just one… there were a million of them.
“I think I felt worse today than I did yesterday. I woke up this morning and just bawled because it was real now. Yesterday I was numb with the shock of hearing the news, but I woke up today and it was real. I’m never going to see him again. I’m never going to see my friend. He’s gone. I went and trained at the gym Andy and I used to train at, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was waiting for him just to walk through the door.
“I’m really thinking of the guys over in Puerto Rico right now. I really miss them at a time like this, and it must be really hard for the guys who are still in the contest to have to deal with losing their friend but having to keep on surfing. It sucks for the guys still in it, but the contest has to go on. I’m feeling like all this is happening a long way away, and I’m really missing being around my friends on tour.
“I was supposed to be travelling with Andy this year. Before I cut my foot we had it all sorted out that I was going to be traveling with him for the rest of the year, through California, Europe and Puerto Rico. I was going to be traveling with him and Freddy [Patacchia] and we were all going to be hanging out together as this little team. And we were already talking about travelling together next year, taking the girls and the kids to Tahiti. The thought of him dying alone in a hotel room just wrecks me.
“As a surfer he had that mad dog in him. He wasn’t afraid of anything, and wore his heart on both his sleeves. He was the most emotional surfer I’ve ever seen. He had that unbelievable aggression in his surfing, and he became one of the best. I idolised him. If Andy put his mind to it there was nothing he couldn’t do on a wave, and over the years I’ve seen him do some of the most incredible things on the most incredible waves. He and Kelly, between them, have owned surfing for the past 10 years.
“When I was talking to Mick [Fanning] on the phone yesterday I said to him that I think I understand now how he must have felt when his brother, Sean died, because Andy was like a brother to me. He was one of my best friends. You know what I liked about Andy? He remembered everyone. He had this ability to remember faces and names and people in places he hadn’t been to in a decade. People meant everything to him, and he made everyone feel special. You didn’t need to be a professional surfer. He’d meet so many people over the years in all the places he’d been, but he’d remember their names and he had time for all of them. He had that quality. He got involved in people’s lives and took an interest in people’s lives. It didn’t matter who you were. And I know he died young, but he lived his life to the fullest, and what he did in 32 years would take most people 132 years.
“My heart goes out to Lyndie, his son, Bruce, his family, his Hawaiian crew and everyone around the world he reached out to.
“Andy was a king; a king of surfing.
“Love you, mate.”
Rest in peace A.I