Honolulu, HAWAII (Friday, Dec. 3, 2004) – Three-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai) today clinched the one jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing that has eluded him for five years, rounding out a sensational season by winning the 30th annual O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. Joining an illustrious list of legendary past winners that was in the making before he was born, 26-year-old Irons is now back on track for a third consecutive Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series title.
The 35-minute final featured a four-man lineup of past, present and future surfing champions with Irons pitted against 22-year-old North Shore local Fred Patacchia Jr., 23-year-old Joel Parkinson (Australia), and pro surfing’s veteran Mark Occhilupo (Australia), 38. But age had nothing to do with the quality of surfing on offer as all four surfers closely matched each others scores through three rounds of competition today en-route to the final. Scores remained tight for the first half of the final, but Irons hit a strong rhythm at the half-way point to steal away with the lead. His score of 16.17 points out of 20 for his best two rides earned him $15,000. Second place was Occhilupo (13.8 points and $8,000), third was Patacchia (12.87 points for $6,000), and fourth was Joel Parkinson (10.5 points and $4,000).
“I’ve gotten second here before,” said Irons. “I knew I’d have to play it smart against those guys.”
After a shocking first round loss in the first event two weeks ago, the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Irons had written off the likelihood of regrouping his results to be able to challenge Series leader Sunny Garcia (Hawaii). But his win today takes him within 150 points of Garcia, who dropped to second on the Triple Crown ratings after losing in one round prior to the quarter finals this-morning. Australian Phillip MacDonald, runner-up at Haleiwa and semi-finalist today, has taken a 122 point lead on the Series. MacDonald sits on 1764 Triple Crown points, Garcia has 1632, and Irons 1488 points.
“This is such a prestigious spot,” continued Irons. “To have a win here is very special. I’m really bummed now that I did bad at Haleiwa. I’m fiending for (the Triple Crown title). But I think Sunny’s going to have to have the wheels fall off for me to beat him.”
With a smaller than usual winter swell on offer today, just 4-6 foot faces, two distinctly different styles of surfing emerged between the regular foot surfers (those who ride facing the wave) and the goofy-footers (those who surf with their back to the wave). In the final, goofy-footers Occhilupo and Patacchia amassed large numbers of maneuvers with their tight, driving top-to-bottom turns, while regular-footers Irons and Parkinson honed into every possible tubing ride to counter the scores. Ironically, it was a rare left-breaking wave that offered Irons a high-scoring back-side tube ride that turned the tables in the heat – the best ride of the final at 8.67 points out of a possible 10. Association of Surfing Professionals (A.S.P.) Head Judge Perry Hatchett called the wave the highest scoring left ever ridden at Sunset during Triple Crown competition.
“I think it looked like I was a little deeper than it really was,” Irons said of the left. “But I’ll take it and I’ll run with it.”
Second placed Occhilupo won over another generation of surfing spectators with a youthful, effervescent string of heats today. By far the heaviest surfer in the final and the oldest surfer in the event, Occhilupo didn’t miss a beat and surfed with the same speed, flair and enthusiasm as his far younger rivals.
Third placed Patacchia received as huge a welcome as Irons upon his return to shore, securing a berth on the A.S.P.’s elite World Championship Tour (W.C.T.) for 2005 with his performance today. His promotion to the top ranks of pro surfing was four years in the making and came as a huge relief and motivation to the Haleiwa surfer.
“The dream first started in high school, but it’s definitely been strong the last four years,” said Patacchia. “The second I made the quarters, I felt a lot better. By the final, my thought was, You’re job’s done.
“I always love surfing events out here. Some guys would kill just to shake these guys hands and I got to muck around with them out there.”
As the final World Qualifying Series (W.Q.S.) event of the 2004 A.S.P. World Tour, the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing played a major hand in deciding the lineup for next year’s W.C.T. tour. Along with Patacchia, Californian Tim Reyes, 22, (Huntington Beach) qualified for the W.C.T. tour today. While the performance of W.C.T. surfers at Pipeline will cast the final dice, W.Q.S. qualifiers currently include the top 20 W.Q.S. ranked surfers, with Brazil’s Bernardo Pigmeu the last at this point, rated 20th (see WQS rankings www.aspworldtour.com).
Reyes, an O’Neill team rider, had his greatest day in pro surfing today, posting the highest heat score of the entire competition in the quarter finals, 18.07 points out of a possible 20, before losing in the semi-finals to Occhilupo and Irons. His 5th place finish overall was enough to earn him the 2004 Nose Guard Rookie of the Year award, that goes to the best newcomer to the Triple Crown.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing next moves to Pipeline for the third and final men’s event, the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters – the final W.C.T. event of the year. The holding period begins Wednesday, December 8, and runs through the 20th. The second and final event of the women’s Triple Crown Series, the Billabong Pro Maui, runs through the same period as Pipeline.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is made possible through the support of a partnership of the world’s leading brands and media companies including: Ford Trucks, G-Shock, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Surfing Magazine, Surfline.com, Roxy.com, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, The Honolulu Advertiser and Fox Sports Net.
For Daily Status of Events and complete results:
1st=$15,000, 2nd=$8,000, 3rd=$6,000, 4th=$4,000
- 1st. Andy Irons (Hawaii) 16.17
- 2nd. Mark Occhilupo (Australia) 13.8
- 3rd. Fred Patacchia (Hawaii) 12.87
- 4th. Joel Parkinson (Australia) 10.5
1st & 2nd to final. 3rd=5th, 4th=7th
- H1: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 15.73; Andy Irons (Haw) 15.33; Tim Reyes (USA) 14.13; Nathan Carroll (Haw) 10.16
- H2: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 17.53; Fred Patacchia (Haw) 14.16; Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 12.2; Cory Lopez (USA) 12.17
1st & 2nd to Semi Finals. 3rd=9th, 4th=13th
- H1: Tim Reyes (USA) 18.07; Nathan Carroll (Haw) 12.17; Michael Lowe (Aus) 11.07; Kalani Robb (Haw) 9.77
- H2: Andy Irons (Haw) 14.17; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 13.43; Daniel Jones (Aus) 10.0; Renan Rocha (Brz) 8.74
- H3: Fred Patacchia (Haw) 16.1; Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 15.33; Neco Padaratz (Brz) 13.83; Kelly Slater (USA) 12.36
- H4: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.07; Cory Lopez (USA) 12.83; Leonardo Neves (Brz) 9.67; Raoni Monteiro (Brz) 9.43
1st & 2nd to Quarter Finals. 3rd-17th, 4th-25th
- H1: Kalani Robb (Haw) 15.0; Tim Reyes (USA) 11.93; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 10.83; CJ Hobgood (USA) 7.2
- H2: Nathan Carroll (Haw) 12.53; Michael Lowe (Aus) 11.34; Paulo Maura (Brz) 10.0; Sunny Garcia (Haw) 9.77
- H3: Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.43; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.5; Pablo Gutierrez (BRz) 8.23; Ben Bourgeois (USA) 6.73
- H4: Daniel Jones (Haw) 13.77; Andy Irons (Haw) 13.56; Greg Emslie (SAfr) 11.67; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 8.53
- H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.84; Neco Padaratz (Brz) 13.23; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 11.16; Chris Ward (USA) 10.07
- H6: Fred Patacchia (Haw) 13.0; Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 11.5; Ian Walsh (Maui) 9.66; Masatoshi Ohno (Jpn) 3.6
- H7: Cory Lopez (USA) 14.17; Leonardo Neves (Brz) 12.5; Daniel Ross (Aus) 12.27; Brian Pacheco (Haw) 12.0
- H8: Raoni Monteiro (Brz) 13.17; Joel Parkinson (Aus) 12.5; Bruce Irons (Haw) 9.57; Kieren Perrow (Aus) 3.17