The Heat Is On – Can Andy Irons Hold Off Kelly Slater?

Completely disregard the fact that the surf's been a hideous two to three feet in Brazil for the first three rounds of the Nova Schin Festival in Brazil, it's 100% irrelevant. We're getting down to nitty gritty of the 2005 World Title race, and if Andy Irons is going to have any chance of playing spoiler to Kelly Slater's unprecedented seventh title, he's going to have to stay one step ahead of this arch rival. With both surfers comfortably advancing through Round Three today, it's coming down to a sprint for the finish line.

Essentially it breaks down like this: Andy Irons has to finish fifth or better, and if they both get into the Quarterfinals he has to finish one place better than Slater if his World Title hopes are going to remain intact heading into the Pipeline Masters. So if Slater gets a fifth, Andy has to get third or better. If Kelly gets third, Irons has to make it into the final. And, being on opposite sides of the draw, should both make the Final, Andy has to win to stay on track. Tomorrow, with Slater facing off against South African Travis Logie and Irons squaring up against Australia's Bede Durbidge, it looks like both surfers are going to have to overcome two of the most talented rookies on the '05 Tour. It's not over 'til it's over, so stay tuned to for all the late breaking developments. Also, visit for more in-depth analysis. — Jake Howard