ANDY IRONS WINS THE RIP CURL PRO PIPELINE MASTERS
Andy Irons (HAW) had a day to remember today when he claimed victory in the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters and the coveted Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing.
For Irons it was a fantastic ending to an amazing year and a tremendous finishing reward after relinquishing his Foster's ASP Men's World Tour crown to Kelly Slater (USA) back in Brazil.
Finishing behind Irons was Mick Fanning (AUS), Bruce Irons (HAW) and Kalani Chapman (HAW).
Irons never looked like losing the final. Despite Fanning getting off to an early lead he looked solid and at home in the somewhat tricky conditions. Half way through the final he dropped into a freak set and scored a perfect 10 after he slipped inside two deep tube rides and finished with a massive but unsuccessful flying air.
"The wave came off the reef and doubled up a bit," said Irons. "I pulled in behind the section and came through it then managed to get back in another little barrel. I then tried a flying air and landed on the reef. It was one of the only waves in the final that came in clean."
Irons then held onto first place until the final hooter as his brother Bruce and Fanning desperately attempted to real him in. Chapman meanwhile struggled to find quality waves, but proved all event that he certainly has the skill to match it with the world's best.
Irons was extremely happy and looked almost relieved that the year was over. For him it has been a roller coaster ride as he did his utmost to stay in the title race right up to Brazil. To win today was obviously satisfying for him.
"This definitely has made it a lot easier that's for sure," said Irons of not retaining his world crown. "I was one heat away from bringing it to Pipe in Brazil and now I've got in the back of my mind a lot of what ifs. But I really wanted to do well here in the Triple Crown and Pipe and I achieved my goal.
"It's such a great event. I was also stoked to get to surf with my brother out there in the final. This was like a world title in itself. Everyone knows about it through the news and magazines. There's so much hype around the Hawaiian events. To do well here means a lot and it's almost a world title so I'm over the moon."
Fanning and Bruce Irons were obviously hoping to claim a Pipe victory here today but like Andy they seemed relaxed and content after good seasons this year. Fanning will finish in third place on the Foster's ASP Men's World Tour Ratings while Bruce Irons will finish in ninth.
The Irons brother's duels are always exciting and the crowd weren't disappointed.
"I'm stoked with the third, sure I would have liked to win but I'm happy to get this trophy and end the year on a high. I'm just looking forward to having a really good holiday," said Bruce.
Fanning meanwhile was just enjoying the moment and like the others was looking forward to the post event celebrations.
"It was good to have three mates in the final," said Fanning. "I was a bit pissed when Andy got that 10 but what can you do… Between Andy and Bruce they pretty much dominate Pipe. It was great to finish the year in a final. It's just a little more cash to party with tonight!"
For Kalani Chapman it was a dream come true. The Pipeline local made it all the way through from the Rip Curl Code STL Trials and certainly made an impact when mixing it with the best of the best. It was a great learning experience for him and no doubt he'll be back bigger and better next year.
"I'm just really stoked to surf with them and against them," he said referring to the top 45. "It's always been a dream to surf in this event and it's been a gnarly contest right from the start, even from the trials. I'm tired but it's mad to be here right now. I learned a lot from this – everything from positioning myself in the water to managing time in a heat. I'm a lot more confident for next time."
While the finalists will be celebrating till the early hours of tomorrow morning, none will be celebrating harder that Sunny Garcia (HAW) and Luke Egan (AUS) who both ended their sterling pro surfing careers after being eliminated in semi-final two.
Both have been on the tour since 1986 and 21 years later they were bracketed to surf their last ever heat together in some tremendous waves at Pipe.
"It was really cool to surf in the semis with Sunny in my last heat," said Egan while on stage with good friend Garcia. "But not only that, to be mixing it with the young guys here, well I'm just really stoked with this old guy's effort [pointing to Sunny] and my effort."
"For me it's pretty much the same," said Garcia "It's insane! Luke and I started off on the tour together way back in 1986. I met him in 1984 in an event in Japan and we've been good friends ever since. What better way to end my career than to surf here today with my best friend… and losing to the future of Hawaiian surfing [laughs as he looked at Bruce and Andy] I just couldn't picture going out any other way."
They join Shane Beschen (USA), Lee Winkler (AUS), Renan Rocha (BRA), Kalani Robb (HAW) and Tim Curren (USA) on the retiree list.
Winning the best tube prize in the Foster's Expression Session was Makua Rothman (HAW) with Miles Padaca (HAW) coming in in second.
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 17.33
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.33
3. Bruce Irons (HAW) 11.33
4. Kalani Chapman 6.37
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing ratings top five finished as follows:
1. Andy Irons (HAW)
2. Mick Fanning (AUS)
3. Pancho Sullivan (HAW)
4. Jake Paterson (AUS)
5. Sunny Garcia (HAW)
With the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters now over, the ratings on the Foster's ASP Men's World Tour have been finalised.
The top 10 finished as follows:
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 7962
2. Andy Irons (HAW) 7860
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 6650
4. Damien Hobgood (USA) 6148
5. Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 6060
6. Trent Munro (AUS) 5748
7. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5512
8. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 5426
9. Bruce Irons (HAW) 5294
10. CJ Hobgood (USA) 5248
For the full ratings go to www.aspworldtour.com