Bruce Irons Wins The 2008 Rip Curl Search

EVENTS HELD: Round 4 to the Victory Dance
CONDITIONS: More 4- to 6-foot, unpredictable Perfection
NATURE'S CALL: Figure it out
PREDICTIONS: We'll be back next year, SOMEWHERE on Planet Earth

Even when he loses, he wins. Even when he's not trying, he raises the bar. And even when he's not ever here, Kelly Slater claims the lead to our contest coverage. Damn that guy.

After his Round 3 loss, Slater left the door open for title chasers like Mick, Parko, Bede and Taj to make up some ground in his 1,{{{200}}}-point lead. And one by one, like some weird voodoo, they all went down in the very next round. "You can hear Kelly laughing from the other side of the island," Aussie photog Dave Sparkes cracked. It was Dawn of the Upset, as each an every top title contender missed waves on their own priority and headed up to the pool at Blue Point for a couple mid-day consolation beers. "No more Eugene," says Mick Fanning after a frustrating loss to an in-form Bruce Irons. "It's Wayan tonight. Local style."

The non-victory party was well underway by the quarterfinals when...well, let's skip the quarterfinals, shall we? Taj was the only quarterfinalist who'd ever won a WCT event, and he went down to a loose and legendary Chris Ward. Wardo kept throwing turns way behind extension, and pushing everything in a way that was both reckless and beautiful.

Wardo was in classic form for Indo, as if that dodgy stuff earlier this year never really happened at all. (What ice-chunk? It was just a snowball!) He showed up with three boards, broke two of 'em, and kept going for brokenness through the Semi. But Bruce one upped Wardo and put breaking his body on the line over a seriously dry section on the inside Racetrack section for an un-matchable 9.7. Done and done.

By this time, Andy Irons had already called the Final. "Start charging everything to room 109," he said. "One of those are gonna win this thing."

See, old friends Freddy Patacchia and Bruce Irons were sharing Room 109 at the Blue Point Hotel, overlooking the fabled Uluwatu. (Yes, we're just going to name "Somewhere." Don't act like you didn't already know just to please our sponsors.) Both surfers had been in top form the entire event. Freddy was surfing like a reverse Mick Fanning: tight, technical and fast. Bruce was surfing like, well, an Irons. Going for broke over shallow sections and pulling it off when no one else could. But there was also an element of not-Bruce in his surfing, too. A hint of contest savvy that almost made you wish he hadn't already promised to quit this tour next year. (Bruce was making good on Parko's advice to him on surfing this break: "Just figure it out," he said.)

So, Freddy and Bruce in the Final, and you just know a high-five is happening in there somewhere. The Blue Point Pool Party viewing area was full of Bali locals and Hawaiian dignitaries alike: Rico Jimenez, Kai-Borg, Makua Rothman…and every wave was a full cheering section for both surfers. Win win.

Fred Patacchia

With very few waves in the first 20 minutes, the heat officially got interesting when the Hawaiian chargers chased a late series of big sets to the Outside Corner takeoff. Bruce went huge (as he does), pulling in deep on a rare barreling bomber and then going right through the shallow inside section.

"NO ONE goes right at Ulus!!!" the boys were all cat-calling at Blue Point (mocking the media's coverage of dude's going right at Teahupo'o).

Bruce scored a 9.33 for the effort, and now Freddy was gonna need a big one to make a comeback.

Moments later, he found one. But after a few big turns, the wave kinda pooped out, and Freddy turned around to see Bruce absolutely tearing the bag out of the wave behind it. So, Patacchia dropped in on his old friend and high fived him back onto the dry reef. A fitting end to an irie conclusion, and now we can all head off to Kuta and get weird.

But with his first big WCT win, will Bruce find a new place in his heart for the Dream Tour.

"When I say something I back it up," said Irons. "SEE YA!!!"

(1st wins $US 30,000; 2nd wins $US 16,000)

Bruce Irons def. Fred Patacchia

(1st advances to Final; 2nd finishes =3rd)

Heat 1: Fred Patacchia def. Tiago Pires
Heat 2: Bruce Irons def. Chris Ward

(1st advances to Semifinals; 2nd finishes =5th)

Heat 1: Fred Patacchia def Kai Otton
Heat 2: Tiago Pires def. Kieren Perrow
Heat 3: Bruce Irons def. Ben Dunn
Heat 4: Chris Ward def. Taj Burrow

(1st advances to Quarters; 2nd finishes =9th)

Heat 1: Kai Otton def. Bede Durbidge
Heat 2: Fred Patacchia def. Joel Parkinson
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow def. Bobby Martinez
Heat 4: Tiago Pires def. Dayyan Neve
Heat 5: Bruce Irons def. Mick Fanning
Heat 6: Ben Dunn def. Mikael Picon
Heat 7: Taj Burrow def. Dean Morrison
Heat 8: Chris Ward def. Andy Irons