Andy Irons was remembered today in a memorial ceremony on his home island of Kauai. On the road into Hanalei Bay, decorations were visible everywhere. Many signs read things like, “Andy, we love you” and “1978 – Forever”. On the walk down to the crowded beach, the letters ‘A.I.’ stood 25 feet tall, made of leaves and bamboo, erected by Robert Pa. Marquees lined the beach, with Andy memorabilia and t-shirts printed with ‘AI’, above a love heart and the letter ‘U’. One huge wall was decorated with Irons family photos, including pictures of a handsome young Andy, many of which were with brother Bruce.
Traditional Hawaiian prayers were read before everyone paddled out into the Pine Trees lineup. All manner of people associated with the surfing world were in attendance, from surfers and friends like Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow and Joel Parkinson, to local Hawaiians and Andy’s lifelong friends like Kala Alexander and Kai Garcia, to manager Blair Marlin and legends like Rory Russell. There was much hugging and people shaking hands before pulling each other into hugs. An estimated five-10 thousand people attended the ceremony, the biggest in surfing history. Once out the back, the crowd was almost too large to form a ring. A helicopter hovered above, pouring a constant flow of flowers and wreaths into the crowd.
In the centre of the crowd sat a boat, covered in Hawaiian flags and carrying Andy’s brother Bruce, wife Lindy and parents Phil and Danielle Irons. Bruce wore trunks, Danielle wore blue and Lindy glowed in a flowing dress, beautiful in pregnancy. None wore black and all seemed over-whelmed by the enormous crowd. The group huddled together in a hug on the back of the boat.
The crowd splashed water and whistled, then followed with a round of clapping with palms on surfboards. A chant from the boat called ‘ANDY’, to which the crowd responded ‘IRONS’, loud and heart-felt. Bruce continued to throw wreaths into the water. He and mother Danielle climbed onto the back of jet skis, Bruce standing with one of Andy’s boards raised above his head and Danielle with fingers pointed out toward the crowd in thanks and celebration of her son’s life. Both rode through the crowd thanking people for coming. After the ceremony, the huge crowd returned to shore for speeches.
The beginning of Hawaii’s professional surfing season was postponed to allow fellow surfers to attend the memorial.