Surf: Three to five feet, light winds
Events Held: Semis and final
Nature’s Call: OK, you’re all really hot
Predicted: Crazy action in two weeks at Teahupo’o
Andy Irons starts his Bells campaign by losing his passport and almost losing the plot. He finishes it the only way possible, if he’s to find his way toward a world title defense. “I saw it as a sign,” he says of the passport blunder. By now Andy’s collected his first-place Bell and is standing next to his rental car, rinsing off under a bottle of water — what passes for a post-heat shower at Johanna Beach. “I see all kinds of things as signs. Man, I read ’em way too deep!”I thought oh, OK, here we go, back into it again …. The surf’s perfect in the first event and I’m out in round four. Then I do that right before the second event, just screw up with my passport. I thought well it’s all over, I thought I’d got over it but no, it’s back again.”

“It” is the risky instability, the innner sense of uncertainty that wobbled AI’s first years on tour. You know: the years he floundered, lived it up, lost direction and faith in his career. Andy won in 2002 because he’d banished “it” to the cellar, bringing forth the focus and positive energy his extraordinary talent has always required for balance.When that passport went missing, Andy’s confidence went missing too. He got to the Rip Curl Pro two days late, and just three hours early for his first round heat. “If the contest had kept going that first week, I’d have been history. I wouldn’t have had the time to settle down, get used to everything and put it behind me.” Weirdly enough, then, the completely shitty surf of Bells’s first week worked in absolute harmony with AI’s needs — which might be a sign of something else. But we’ll get to that later.