Is Our Andy Back?


Andy Irons and the final heats of RD. 2 at the Quiksilver Pro
By Chas Smith

It is still raining, etc. Cloudy, grey, etc. I don't really care anymore. I care about the mental state of Andrew Irons. He lost his round one heat to Tom Whitaker and Jay Thompson. Tom got a 10.80, Jay a 10.66. Andy got a 5.83 and did not look good. He looked bad, even though he still has that super strong jaw. (His jaw belongs in the Smithsonian). Bad, like, out of place.

I can't imagine what sort of pressure exits for the Champ. Is it crushing? Debilitating? Does he wake up at night covered in sweat and dread and the worried kisses of Lyndie? Does he feel washed up at 31? Does he feel his younger, wilder brother has moved on without surfing while surfing has moved on without him? What pressure! What a mess!

And he did himself no favors with that first heat of 5.83.

But this is a new day even though it is still raining, etc. Even though the winds are blowing so totally hard etc. And Andy's round two heat isn't until the end of the day.

First Freddy P takes out Tanner Gudauskas. Then Dean Morrison disposes of Matt Wilkinson. Then Kai Otton vanquishes Nate Yeomans. Wilko and Yeomans were both totally screwed by the judges. Probably by the South African one. Kekoa beats Jay Thompson (who got the 10.66 earlier). Mick destroys Adam Melling (I think). Pat Gudauskas thrashes Michel Bourez. And who knows about either Ben Dunn or Daniel Ross. Wait! I do! Daniel Ross wore his white singlet knotted in the back just like Daisy Duke wore her sexy plaid shirts! Such a good look! So underutilized! But enough about Daniel Ross!

Andy has snuck around the back of the competitors' area and toward the Snapper Rocks. He is stretching and attaching his leash. He is getting into a small ball and rolling back on his haunches. He doesn't look well. Well as in confident. The rain is etc, bouncing off his board. He is wearing Billabong trunks and the same color singlet as Daniel Ross but not scrunched in the same sexy way. Roy Powers eases by and paddles out first. Then Andy. Slowly.

They talk to each other in the line-up. Briefly. It looks friendly. And they are friends, but once Roy Powers said, "This is my livelihood. I'd put it to my mom out there." Ooo-ee!

I can't imagine what sort of pressure exists for the Champ. Is it impossible? Artery hardening?

A mini set comes. Andy catches the first wave. It is long and smooth. He drops down to the trough where he does a beautiful bottom turn and then on to the lip where he does a tentative top turn. It is almost classic Andy, except for all the bogging and slowing and unsteadiness. He drops down again, comes back up and does another. Still uncertain. And another. Uncertain. And ends with a floater over the closeout. He is scored a 6.67. The audience doesn't make a sound.

On his second wave he wipes out directly. .37.

Third wave he doesn't complete a strange turn in the whitewash. Strange. Tom Carroll says over the loudspeaker, "He kinda sorta all let it fall apart. I would have thought he would have read it better down the line. Not really vintage Andy."
I just can't imagine. Is it devastating? Blinding?

A fourth wave. Andy all of a sudden and from out of nowhere turns into Andy. He drops in sure and does a big heel turn, a big roundhouse one arm in the grey sky the other reaching behind him smooth arching gouge. Such iconic! Then he gets barreled. The audience hums approval. It had really been so silent! Tom Carroll says over the loudspeaker, "He simply has inevitable style." I have no idea what inevitable style means? Does it mean enviable style?

Whatever. Tom Carroll is right. Andy, when surfing like Andy or even when surfing like a pale imitation of Andy has such gorgeous elan. The way he surfs is so totally him! Those turns, the way his knees bend slightly, the way his arms look. Inevitable!

His fifth wave is le meilleur du meilleur. He drops, behind the rock, into a huge grinding tube. Straight up and then straight out to the lip and then SMACK! Off the lip. Tom Carroll says, "I've never seen anyone else do that."

Andy Irons wins his round two heat. He comes into the shore and is mobbed by fans and Ronnie Blakey who is also a fan. A smile bisects his beautiful jaw. He stays on the beach for 10 minutes answering questions and smiling. Then he jogs toward the competitors area. Two Asian girls are standing with a digital camera. "Excuse me" one says. "Can I take picture?" Andy poses with one of them, smiling. "Good on you" the other says. I love when Asians speak with Australian accents!