Andy's connection with SURFER magazine extended well beyond simply being its subject matter. The day then-publisher Rick Irons sat me down in his office to welcome me to the team I knew the family and the magazine were inextricably linked. With the addition of Andy's cousin, Janna, to the team soon after that, those bonds were only solidified.
But as SURFER staffers we all had our own connections to Andy, we all knew him in some capacity. Some of us went on surf trips with him, others played golf with him (a fantastic spectacle), and others merely fist-bumped him back stage at Surfer Poll.
Regardless of how well we knew Andy, news of his passing devastated the entire staff. Our hearts and sympathies go out to Andy's pregnant wife Lyndie and the rest of the Irons clan during this sad and terrible time.
Thankfully, Andy's spirit will live on, whether it be through his soon-to-be-born son, in the memories of those that loved and knew him, or in the pages and posts of SURFER. But for now, we will take a day to remember Andy and mourn his passing. He was one of us.
The surf world stood still yesterday. It still doesn't seem real. It's hard to imagine the Irons family with out Andy, Kauai's North Shore without Andy, the surf world without Andy. He was a part of my own family, and a part of so many other families a well. A hero, a friend, a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew, and soon to be a father, Andy was so much more than just an amazing surfer. He brought something to the surf world--and to all of our worlds--that no one else will ever bring. Andy was at the top of his game, the top of the world. He will be forever missed, forever loved, and forever a legend.
I spent all day yesterday on the phone with people calling from all around the world to make sure the story of Andy's death was just a rumor. Tragically, it wasn't. So I got to hear a lot of the surf community's memories of him, and that connected me, of course, to my own. I was lucky enough to get to observe him as a public personality and to know him a bit personally. I was five feet away at Pipeline in 2003, when Kelly embraced him before that historic final and whispered something in his ear. Then they paddled out and Andy handed Kelly one of the most solid defeats the King has probably ever had. I was also five feet away a couple years later at Snapper Rocks, when Andy stroked into a wave from behind the rocks, and the entire Snapper line up stopped battling each other for a moment and just watched him. They were all so preoccupied, craning their necks as he disappeared down the point, that I got the next wave without even having to call anyone off it. As fate would have it, I kicked out of my wave right next to him, and we did the same thing again. It was interesting to be in his world as we moved quietly past Little Marley, Rainbow Bay, and Greenmount. In the water, he was confidence and directness personified--no wasted effort, no aggression. A tiger amongst lambs. At SURFER, the phones still haven't stopped ringing.
For many Andy was a hero, but for me he was more than that. He was a person I grew up idolizing. I watched videos of him, tried to mimic him in and out of the water--from the way he surfed to the way he dressed, and especially the way he expressed his emotion. There will always be a place in my heart for Andy.
For many of us here at SURFER, Andy's life extended beyond just his prowess in a jersey. For the handful of us that call Hawaii home, he was a local hero whose name bordered on the holy. Growing up on Kauai, when Andy pulled up next to you in the parking lot at Pinetrees or stood behind you in the checkout line at the grocery store, it was hard not to feel like you were standing in front of a living legend. For a whole generation of young surfers from Kauai, the annual Irons Bros. surfing contest was the next best thing to Christmas. When the event went down, you've never seen so many prizes given away and ear-to-ear smiles. And that's not even mentioning the groms. We remember Andy as our neighbor who became a surfing hero to the world, but never forgot his home.
It's hard to believe that just 60 days ago, Andy stood on the deck of a small boat in a Tahitian channel donning the type of smile that just can't be faked. His eyes beamed with pride as he fidgeted--the thrill of winning an event physically overtaking him. At that moment, Andy was as happy as a man could be. He had shown that he was still at the top of his game. He was standing where he belonged. On top of the world. This is how I’ll remember Andy.
Andy's surfing accomplishments obviously speak for themselves, which is what he always wanted....for his surfing to do the talking. He was and will remain my favorite surfer to watch. The rawest talent in the game. His world titles and event wins will always be in the history books and in every surf fans collection of magazines and videos. The thing that is important to me and I think everyone should know; is what his friends and family already do; that is that Andy had the biggest heart ever and was a true friend and one of the best ones Ive ever had. I have amazing memories of surfing trips and crazy times with him, but the thing that will make a far bigger void is having him there to just be what he was.... a great, funny amazing person to spend time with. I will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with his Family, especially Lyndie and their unborn son.
SURFER Account Executive
Messages From Friends and Surfers:
“For my brother and I, Andy was one of our closest friends. He created stability for us in an ever changing life of traveling the world. Cory and him, in particular, through every turn life took, always stayed close. It seems like yesterday when we all traveled together and experienced our friend rise to the top-of-the-world three years in a row. Andy was an inspiration to me, he was an inspiration to all of us. I will forever remember all the great experiences my family and his family have shared together through the years. We love you Andy."--Shea, Cory, and the entire Lopez family
“Andy was like an older brother to me he was one of reasons for me taking the route to professional surfing. Today November 2, 2010 will be a memory that will never be forgotten Andy's death, he is no longer here it's only memories of him. Andy is and will be known as a surfing legend, I know him as a Husband, Brother, Son, Father and Friend. I love you and Andy may your legacy live on, I'm here for your family and I will never forget what you have done for me.” --Roy Powers
“My heart is ripped right now to hear about my good buddy Andy Irons’ death. Thank you for teaching me things no one else could, like; how to whip a tennis racquet at Klev’s car, haha, and giving me some dope surf movies to watch as a grom. I look forward to the day when I get to see you on the rock again, hopefully then I’ll come packed with extra fuel, hahah. You will be missed my brother, love and respect.”
– Clay Marzo
"Yesterday I lost not only a competitor, friend but most importantly a brother. Andy Irons you will be in my heart for eternity! R.I.P AI"--Mick Fanning
"To my friend and a hero. I will miss you but you will never be forgotten. My love goes out to all the Irons family members. God bless you all"--Luke Steadman
"RIP ANDY, you where the king in the sport of Kings, Praying for your family. very sad day!"--Nate Yoemans
"Absolutely devastated R.I.P Andy you will be deeply missed by everyone. A true champion. My prayers go out to the Irons family."--Bede Durbige
"Never lost someone this close. I never felt like this. Im empty, Im numb and nothing makes sense. I love you Andy. My whole heart to the fam."--Coco Ho
"Andy was an amazing young man filled with love and life. He was so passionate about everything I think that's what made him so exciting to watch. May God be with Lyndie and the Irons family as they navigate this time. My Heart, Thoughts and Prayers go out to the Irons."--Garth Tarlow
"Wow I’m absolutely in pieces right now hearing about Andy irons death. You’ll be missed my friend. Sending prayers out for his family…"--Ian Walsh
"Absolutely devastated Andy Iron’s has passed…..A.I you were a champion mate! I was privileged to have known you. So so sad..."--Luke Munro
“Andy was an absolutely gifted individual. I’m lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I’m made of because of Andy. We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved. I’m so sad. My thoughts are with Bruce and Lyndie and their parents and all of his many friends around the world. It’s a huge and far too premature loss for all of us. He was the most intense competitor I’ve ever known and one of the most sensitive people. He had so much life left in him and it hurts to think about. We look forward to his memory living on with our memories of him and his child on the way. There are a lot of uncles awaiting his arrival. I really miss Andy. He had a really good heart."--Kelly Slater
“Words can never explain how I feel right now. R.I.P. Andy, I know I will see you again.”--Sunny Garcia