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Kelly Slater Passing the Torch

Monday, November 17th, 2008

“Dane Reynolds is the best surfer in the world right now by a mile. If he doesn’t win this thing for the next 20 years, there’s something wrong I think.” – Kelly Slater

dane reynolds

Kelly Slater has never been shy about his thoughts on the potential possessed by Dane Reynolds to usher in the next revolution for surfing. For years now, Kelly has been generous and unrelenting in heaping praise on his Quiksilver counterpart. More so than any other world champion, as far as I can remember, Slater has gone out his way to pass the torch to Dane, and never was this more evident than at the most recent edition of the Surfer Poll awards where Kelly not only won his unprecedented 14th Surfer Poll, but also witnessed Dane finish third overall in the Surfer Mag poll. The list of surfers finishing behind Dane was pretty impressive, including the likes of Joel Parkinson, Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Taj Burrow and others considered to be among the worlds best.

And Dane’s response to all of the respect being thrown this way and being considered the new revolution?

“I don’t know if I’ve really arrived, I’m only young…Everything I do is just a tiny notch toward…I don’t know what. A baby step toward something. I’m just a surf bum, really.”

Classic Dane, and part of the reason why Kelly’s prophecy of Dane’s greatness is likely to be fulfilled. Contest results, hype, awards and everything else don’t really seem to phase Dane much. He just loves to ride and is one of the most progressive, talented guys out there doing it.

Kelly speaks on the future of Dane…

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Andy Irons Responds

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

andy irons“Living a happy life is my main priority. You guys may think I am selfish for “wasting my talent” by staying away from events for a bit, but I am finally at a comfortable place where I can honestly say, if you guys see me out on tour again it’s because I am there to win, and I’m going to go 100%. If you don’t see me on tour, it’s because I have found happiness away from winning, and that might be the biggest achievement I could ever accomplish.” – Andy Irons

In an interview done by Surfline’s Lewis Samuels, 3-time ASP World Tour champion Andy Irons opened up and responded to some of the questions that have come as a result of erratic performances, enigmatic no-shows in France and Spain(Billabong’s own Pro Mundaka), an an apparent overall disinterest in the tour itself ,similar to that of his brother Bruce. Why did you no-show for your heat in France? Are you going to the next ASP event, in Brazil? Do you plan on surfing the Pipe Masters this year? Did losing twice in a row to Kelly at the beginning of this season have any effect on your desire to compete? Samuels fired away, Andy answered candidly…

We’ve seen this mid-career, soul searching journey from former world champions before. Curren, Occy, and Slater all stepped away in similarly abrupt manners while at the peak of their careers. In their own ways, each returned from their time away from the bright lights of the tour renewed and seemingly fulfilled.

Will this be the case with Andy Irons? Will we see a world championship run return from him just like those of Occy and Slater? Or will he simply be content with freesurfing the worlds best waves with Bruce and making random Pipeline Masters appearances? Only time and A.I. himself will answer those questions. Hopefully this time away will see Andy find whatever it is that has kept him holed up in hotel rooms and on the verge of a melt-down. And hopefully, as Andy himself put it, this time away will allow Andy Irons fall in love with surfing all over again.

Posted in Surfing | 4 Comments »

The State of Pro Surfing in Hawaii

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

clay marzo

It’s been 32 years since the ASP World Tour officially began. And in every year since 1976 there has been at least one Hawai’i surfer in the Top 10 come years end. With only 3 events left for the 2008 year on tour, that streak is in jeopardy of coming to an end.

With a total of 5 world championships making their way back to the islands over the past 31 years, Hawai’i’s professional surfers have always had at least some sort of impact on the world title race. However when Andy Irons unexpectedly skipped out of his 2nd round heat with Jihad Khodr at the Quiksilver Pro France, the Kauai’i surfer tumbled all the way down to no.13 in the overall ASP rankings and left Hawaii without any representation in the current Top 10. That has to be pretty strange for the place that many consider to be the epicenter of the surfing world. Even stranger than that is the real scenario that Hawai’i could go from having 5 surfers on tour in 2008 to a mere 2 on the 2009 Dream Tour.

‘08 has been anything but a smooth ride for Hawai’s current WCT surfers. Although he hasn’t been the same dominant, intimidating A.I. that we’ve come to know in recent years, Andy had been fairly consistent up until the Trestles event. He went home with a 33rd from the Trestles event, and then followed that result up with his France no-show. Brother Bruce, and current world no. 14, made his overall displeasure with the tour known by announcing his decision to bail on full-time tour status next year. In classic Bruce Irons fashion, the Volcom-rider completely blew minds on his way to winning the “Somewhere in Indo” event, and then went on to blow minds again, although in a very different way, with laying down of scores in the 2+ range during his very brief appearance at the Quik Pro.

Fred Patacchia started off the year with a frustrating leg-injury at the hands of Pipeline and it really took Fred a few events to get back into form. He finished runner-up to Bruce in Indo and, aside from his Trestle’s showing, seems to be riding some decent momentum. He’s currently sitting at no. 18 and will more than likely seal himself a spot on the ‘09 tour in the next couple of events.

Roy Powers and Pancho Sullivan round out the rest of Hawai’i’s pro-surfing contigent. Pancho, at no. 40, will definitely have to climb back on tour via the WQS next year and Roy, at no. 23, is flirting with having to do the same.

The overall future for Hawai’i’s pro’s is actually very bright. Between Clay Marzo, John John Florence, Torry Meister, Mason Ho, and many others, Hawai’i has an absolute slew of up and coming rippers that will most likely compete for the world championship for years to come. However it may be another few years before those guys are actually set to make noise on the Dream Tour. If Roy doesn’t finish in the Top 27, that basically leaves Hawai’i’s tour hopes heaped upon the enigmatic A.I., and a somewhat resurgent Freddy P. Sunny Garcia, currently no. 20 on the WQS tour, has an outside shot of being on the ‘CT next year, but even then you have to wonder about how well he’ll be able to compete with the new breed of surfing that’s taking place on tour.

So while there are still 3 events, and most importantly the Pipeline Masters left for Hawai’i’s current group of pros to make some noise, it’s been an uncharacteristically off year for the state of pro-surfing in Hawai’i. While this seems to be more of an abnormality than a sign of things to come, the possibility of having no surfers in the Top 10 come years end is something that none of us expected at the beginning of the year.

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If a Surfing Contest Happens and Nobody Shows Up….(Video)

Monday, September 29th, 2008

….is it still a contest? Here are the first round heat draws as the holding period for the 2008 Billabong Pro Mundaka gets set to open tomorrow. For whatever the reason, it looks like some of the fellas on tour decided to take a break from this one.

billabong pro mundaka

2008 BILLABONG PRO MUNDAKA UPCOMING ROUND 1 HEATS:
(1st & 2nd advance to Round 2; 3rd finishes =33rd)
Heat 1: Kai Otton, Heitor Alves, Aritz Aranburu
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores, Michael Campbell, Ricky Basnett
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan, Pancho Sullivan, Nic Muscroft
Heat 4: CJ Hobgood, Roy Powers, Manoa Drollet
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez, Ben Dunn, Gabe Kling
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza, Jordy Smith, Tim Boal
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson, Tim Reyes, Mark Occhilupo
Heat 8: Kelly Slater, Taylor Knox, Reubyn Ash
Heat 9: Taj Burrow, Damien Hobgood, Marco San Segundo
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge, Tom Whitaker, Hodei Collazo
Heat 11: Luke Stedman, Jay Thompson, Daniel Ross
Heat 12: Chris Ward, Rodrigo Dornelles, Jihad Khodr
Heat 13: Dayyan Neve, Mikael Picon, Leonardo Neves
Heat 14: Dane Reynolds, Tiago Pires, Travis Logie
Heat 15: Fred Patacchia, Daniel Wills, Ben Bourgeois
Heat 16: Kieren Perrow, Royden Bryson, Luke Munro

No Mick, No A.I., No Bruce, No Neco, No Dean-o. Both Neco Padaratz and Dean Morrison are out do to injury. There has been no word on why Mick Fanning won’t be participating in the action in Spain. That is also the case with the Irons brothers, although Bruce stated in France that he was “over it”, and his surfing at the event fully backed that up, Andy no-showed his second round heat at the recent Quik Pro and apparently will not be taking part in Mundaka. With this being a Billabong event and Irons being one of, if not the biggest names to surf for them, him not appearing at the Billabong Pro raises some questions as to why.

Hopefully all is well for the 3x world champion. It’s a shame, when Andy and Mundaka coexist in top form it’s an incredible thing to see-

With both Mick and Andy out of the event, Billabong is left with Kelly Slater, C.J. Hobgood, and the almighty Occy as the only world champions taking part at the Pro Mundaka. Perhaps everyone is just conceding to Kelly, which would be sad. Or maybe there are circumstances around these no-shows that we don’t know about. Whatever the case, the 2008 Billabong Pro Mundaka is going to be without a few very familiar faces.

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2008 Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles Just a Week Away (VIDEO)

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Kelly Slater at TrestlesAfter nearly a month long break following the Rip Curl Pro Search in Bali, the ASP World Tour is set to continue with the 2008 Boost Mobile Pro. The holding period for the event, which is held at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California, opens next Sunday, Sept. 7

As the lone annual visit to North America made by the Dream Tour is set to kick-off, it’s no surprise that all eyes are on eight-time world champion Kelly Slater.

Following his surprising 3rd round Bali loss to rookie and then world no. 39 Tiago Pires(PRT), Kelly is fired up about getting his march to no. 9 resumed at a break he is very familiar with. Coming into the event as the defending champion, as well as participating in the final heat in each of the last four years at Trestles has Kelly eager to get back on track. “Trestles is probably the closest thing I have to a home break on tour,” Slater said. “It is the only mainland U.S. event and it’s been probably the most consistent event year to year for me. I’ve loved Trestles since I was very young.”

A win at Trestles, or even a top 5 finish, makes Slater an essential lock to seal the overall championship on the upcoming European leg of the tour. With none of the top 10 outside of Taj Burrow making it past the 4th round in Bali, Slater is very conscious of what’s at stake at Lowers. “Bali was a gift to me in the end,” Slater said. “A good result at Trestles could really set my momentum back up. A mess-up could really rattle and shake things up for me. I didn’t think I’d be looking at this the way it is now though, so it’s all fine from here on out.”

Will Trestles be the start of an extended 9th world-championship celebration for Mr. Slater? It’s looking that way, but if Tiago Pires and Bruce Irons taught us one thing in Bali, it’s that anything is possible on the WCT

Clips of Kelly Slater’s 2007 Trestles victory…

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This Is What The Dream Tour Should Be Like All The Time – Video

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Bruce Irons“This is what the Dream Tour should be like all the time” – Bruce Irons, 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search Champion, following the event in Bali.

Truer words could not have been spoken from Bruce following his win in Bali. For as long as I can remember there have been those who dismiss the WCT as unfriendly to progression, limiting, and a tour that is suited more for the best competitors and not necessarily the best surfers in the world. While at times those points of view may hold water, much of the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search (especially the opening round) captured why it is the Dream Tour is called by that name.

With that quote, however, Bruce also gave us some insight into the thought process behind his decision to leave full-time tour life behind and freesurf the best waves of the world. Slogging through mushy beach-breaks, sitting on competitors, inducing interference, and everything else that takes away from the spectacle of watching the some of the world’s best surfers in action on amazing waves all go to remove some of the luster off of the Dream Tour. When these types of things come into play, of course going the freesurfing route while picking and choosing the top events to participate in will be a more desirable route for a lot of surfers.

So how can this be fixed so that the Dream Tour can be truly be just that, a Dream Tour? I’m not exactly sure. Cut down the number of competitors so events can be completed in 1-2 days of the best swell during the waiting period? Longer heats? Eliminating locations like Brazil that just don’t seem to produce world-class waves on a consistent basis? There are a whole host of suggestions that have been thrown out throughout the years. I’m curious though, with the way the tour is currently set-up, what some of the ideas and thoughts our 5ones peeps have as ways to improve on something that’s already great, but could be even better.

While you’re sitting on that thought, check out this bit of love below and see just what Bruce Irons meant with his post-victory statement…

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Heading Down the Home Stretch of the Dream Tour

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

ASP World Tour LogoA golden opportunity lost by the Usual Suspects not named Kelly Slater at the Rip Curl Pro Search turned into a golden opportunity seized by Bruce Irons. How will Bruce finish out his last year on tour with that monkey off of his back? Does anyone still really have a shot at stopping Kelly on his march to number 9? How will the very highly-touted rookies Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds complete their first full year on tour?

The 2008 Boost Mobile Pro Trestles is the beginning of the descent down the mountain that is the Dream Tour. While many believe Kelly’s 9th is inevitable, there are still a lot of interesting story-lines to follow. And aside from all of that…. a hell of a lot of amazing surfing to be seen from some of the best surfers in the world! Here is how the Top 10 is sitting at the moment.

CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10 AFTER STOP NO. 6
1 – Kelly Slater (USA) 5620 points
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4548 points
3 – Bede Durbidge (AUS) 4382 points
4 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 4370 points
5 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 4353 points
6 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 3950 points
7 – Andy Irons (HAW) 3938 points
8 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 3870 points
9 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 3628 points
10 – Bruce Irons (HAW) 3392 points

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Bruce Irons Wins Rip Curl Pro Search

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Bruce Irons Rip Curl Pro Winner

In what was a spectacular event that was as full of surprises as it was epic surfing, Bruce Irons took down his Hawaiian counterpart Fred Patacchia to win the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search ‘Somewhere in Indonesia.’ The victory is the first for Irons on the WCT, and undoubtedly extra rewarding for the surfer many consider to be the ‘best freesurfer on the planet,’ as he plans to step away from full-time participation on the Dream Tour next year. “One of my goals when I joined the Tour was to win an event and I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen since I’ll be stepping away after this season,” Irons said. “But the waves pumped this event! This is what the Dream Tour should be like all the time. I’m definitely stepping away from the ASP Tour at the end of this year, but I’m not retiring. I’m still planning on competing at Pipeline and Teahupoo and at venues that I can get into.”

Aside from Bruce heading home with a huge win under his belt, the Rip Curl Pro Search saw all of the top seeds fail to take advantage of Kelly Slater’s Rd. 3 upset loss to Tiago Pires. Andy Irons, Bede Durbidge, Mick Fanning, and Joel Parkinson all let golden opportunities to make up ground in the world title race slip through their hands, all suffering losses in the 4th round. The only other surfer on tour with even an outside chance of catching Slater, Taj Burrow, did make it through the gauntlet that was Rd. 4. However his run would end in the quarterfinals as an absolutely firing Chris Ward sent the Aussie title hopeful packing, and essentially ending any hope Taj had of winning it all this year.

All other title contenders aside, Irons winning is the story of the event. There has been so much made about his stepping away following the year that it was refreshing to see him put out a performance that everyone knew he was capable of. You even got the sense that his fellow competitors were pumped on Bruce winning one before he steps aside. “It feels great to come back after a slow start to the year,” Patacchia said. “The waves were so good for this event and I’m bummed I didn’t win, but to have Bruce there and since he’s stepping away, it feels good that we kept the title within Hawaii.”

Congratulations Bruce Irons, the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search ‘Somewhere in Indonesia’ Champion!

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH FINAL RESULTS
1 – Bruce Irons (HAW) 17.66
2 – Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.16

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SEMIFINAL RESULTS
SF 1: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.16 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 8.50
SF 2: Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.70 def. Chris Ward (USA) 13.50

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH QUARTERFINAL RESULTS
QF 1: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 16.50 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.17
QF 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.00 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.34
QF 3: Bruce Irons (HAW) 19.40 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 9.67
QF 4: Chris Ward (USA) 16.34 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.90

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH ROUND 4 RESULTS
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) 11.67 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.67
Heat 2: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 19.50 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.40
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.00 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 6.30
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.77 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 5.06
Heat 5: Bruce Irons (HAW) 10.84 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.83
Heat 6: Ben Dunn (AUS) 15.97 def. Mikael Picon (FRA) 12.37
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.43 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.83
Heat 8: Chris Ward (USA) 18.17 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 11.33

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2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay: Update

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Billabong Pro Jeffreys BayRounds 1 and 2 of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay have come and gone. The second straight lay day has been called and surfers and event organizers alike are licking their lips with the forthcoming swell said to be on its way by forecasters. While the opening rounds of the Dream Tour events may at times lack the drama and story-lines of the later rounds, Jeffreys Bay showed once again why it is one of the premier waves in the world. Watching some of the worlds best on one of the worlds best in the opening rounds has been incredible to see. The surfing that has taken place to this point is only a sign of things to come as the event moves into the business rounds.

The opening round performance of Taylor Knox was a site to behold. The 37 yr. old out of Carlsbad, Ca. looked as youthful as ever and appeared to be in complete harmony with J-Bay. Knox’s speed and synergy with the wave netted him the highest combined heat score in Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay history with an almost perfect 19.70. World No. 2 Joel Parkinson did his best to match the level that Knox was performing at, thus providing the South African crowd, as well as all the webcast junkies watching at home, one of the classic 1st round performances of all time. “It’s really enjoyable to be in a heat like that, it was unreal.” Knox said. “It was exciting, because Parko got the first wave and I could see that it was such a good wave and I knew that once it went by me it would barrel. Right then I saw a big one out the back and just thought, ‘I’m going to get barreled.’”

Round 1 also saw the unusual opening round match-up of Bruce and Andy Irons in the same heat. With Bruce set to leave the WCT following the year, there’s a high probability that this is one of the final time the Irons brothers will go head to head in a ‘CT event. The match-up saw Bruce narrowly edge out his big brother and move onto Rd. 3. However the 3x world champion Andy took out his Hawaiian counterpart Granger Larsen on his way to a 3rd round meeting with Brazil’s Heitor Alves.

Stay tuned for the call on rounds 3 and beyond of the 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.

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Bruce Irons Set to Leave WCT

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Bruce Irons“Bruce Irons – It’s hard to say what’s going on with Bruce. The bottom line is he is way too talented of a surfer to consistently be going out in the early rounds. He seemed particularly disinterested in his third round loss to Adrian Buchan at Snapper. How sick would it be to see him go the path of Jamie O’brien and just completely dedicate himself to the freestyle thing? Those two alone are surfing as progressively as any, and would serve as worthy pioneers for a new freestyle movement for surfing.” – March 24, 2008

It has been pretty clear watching Bruce Irons on the ‘CT this year that his heart wasn’t 100% into competitive surfing. When I wrote the paragraph above during this years Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach it was from my perspective as a huge fan of Bruce and his style of surfing. His body language in the majority of his heats this year has screamed that something just wasn’t clicking for him as a competitive surfer. He had the appearance of a caged-animal, someone who was ready and wanting to unleash but was trapped by everything that comes along with being on the ASP Tour. Apparently Bruce has had his fill of the ‘Dream Tour’ and has now made it official – 2008 will be his last full-time year on the WCT. “I’m going back to being a freesurfer,” Bruce says, “It’s what I was meant to do.”

(more…)

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