Surfing’s Heart and Soul

Shea Lopez on Slater's victory on the anniversary of Andy Irons' death

Before the event got started today in Ocean Beach, surfers paddled out in memory of the late Andy Irons. Photo: Ellis

Today was a good day. Which was surprising considering it was one year to the day since I got that text confirming that my good friend Andy Irons had passed away. I had anticipated the flood of emotions as I lumbered through my morning routine. A few calls to mutual friends and family motivated me to watch some old home footage of Andy and I having fun as kids. We’d talked about the tapes for years, but today it felt right to dig them up. So with The Search San Francisco on one screen and pine trees on another, we remembered the past, while we couldn’t believe the present.

Andy loved upsets and underdogs. In SF today, all but 3 or 4 heats could be considered upsets.

Kieren Perrow showed tremendous ocean knowledge as he surfed two perfect heats in his wins over Fanning and de Souza.

Taylor Knox was quick, precise, and powerful. All but dead in the water at the mid-year rotation, it looks like we will get another year from one of the best ever.

Brett Simpson put it all together today. Pulling off a last minute win vs Damo, then thrashing Julian in every facet of their heat. This is the Simpo that won back-to-back US Opens and should be talked about with the likes of Jordy, Owen, Julian, Medina who will all be competing for future world titles.

Andy loved to beat Kelly

Because AI knew Kelly was the only one to challenge him on all playing fields. That’s the beauty in both their surfing--it can be from a 2 foot beachbreak in Japan to 25 foot for the Eddie in Hawaii and they surf it all perfectly. Somewhere in the perfectly pleasant range today in SF, Kelly made all the right moves to snatch the last heat win needed for 11, after trailing most of the heat to Dan Ross. With 11 in the bag, Kelly becomes so far and away the greatest athlete to ever live it is almost laughable that he doesn’t receive the recognition deserving of his talent and dedication.

Andy gave his heart and Kelly gives his soul to the act of riding waves. To me, they exemplify the heart and soul of what surfing is, in or out of a contest jersey.

Click here to see photos of Slaters historic victory.
Read Lewis Samuel’s take on Kelly Slater’s 11th World Title