Well, it’s official, and it didn’t even take a clever social media campaign: Bruce Irons is your Pipe Master’s wildcard, having nabbed the spot in the absence of Matt Banting, who is currently on the injured list.
A former Pipe Master, perennial North Shore standout, and brother to the late Andy Irons (in whose honor the event is held each year), Bruce is consistently the fan favorite for the wildcard, and especially during the winter season, Bruce seems inspired and fired up. Though there have only been a handful of quality days at Pipe and Backdoor this season so far, Bruce has been on it, getting blown out of as big and burly of barrels as anyone this last month and a half.
We caught up with Bruce, to hear how he got the news, and to talk about the potential for him to have a permanent spot at the event, as long as his family name is attached.
Congrats on getting the wildcard, Bruce. How’d you find out?
Thanks, man. Yeah, I’m psyched. Kieren [Perrow] told me in the water the other day.
Last year, the whole #BruceForPipeMastersWildcard thing went nuts, and it seemed inevitable that you’d get it. This year it all happened so quietly. How’d it all go down?
I was talking to Heff, from Billabong [Chris Heffner, the company’s Global Event and Athlete Manager] a couple of days before the waiting period began. Usually, the Pipe wildcard goes to the guy who is winning the Triple Crown, which I think is totally cool. That’s how it’s always been, even when I was doing the trials. And usually it’s a guy who’s already on Tour that’s in the running, but this year it’s Frederico [Morais], so he got the wildcard, and I was in the trials, which was totally fine. I said, “Cool, I’m in the trials – that’s why I’m doing this, so I don’t have to rely on anybody.” It would just be a bonus to get in.
But I always thought, I should have a spot, as long as my brother’s name is on the contest.
That you should be able to defend that title in his name, sort of?
Yeah, I mean, that’s your brother’s contest now. It seems fair that you should have the chance to compete for that title in his name. I mean, would anyone have said anything to Gerry [Lopez] if he had wanted to compete in the event and was still in-form?
Or Clyde Aikau, at the Eddie! I’d give Clyde my spot, if it meant that, you know? So I was in the trials, and I told Kieran, if another spot opens up, I hope I’ll get it. And of course Kieran couldn’t say yes, right there on the spot, he had to talk to the board, the whole thing. Because it is a tricky situation at the end of the year. Kieren told me, you know, if someone’s hurt, it usually goes to the guy who’s one spot out from the Tour. But in this case, it wouldn’t make a difference, so the spot went back to Billabong, and Billabong gave it to me.
And the WSL has to see that you bring a lot of energy to the event, as far as people rooting you on and how excited everyone is just for you to throw on a jersey out there. You’re everyone’s favorite underdog.
Yeah, I told them maybe I could help out with some ratings [laughs]. I think it would be great for the event. But anyway, it’s all meant to be, and I’m not complaining. I’m very, very happy.