Andy takes steps toward relevancy at Bells
It is impossible to believe the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure, classic beauty that can be produced by a man, a wave and a piece of foam shrouded in fiberglass. If you do not choose to believe it is possible and want to regard it all nonsense you may be able to prove you are […]
It is impossible to believe the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure, classic beauty that can be produced by a man, a wave and a piece of foam shrouded in fiberglass. If you do not choose to believe it is possible and want to regard it all nonsense you may be able to prove you are right by going to a surf competition in which nothing magical occurs; and there are many of them; enough always so you will be able to prove it to your own satisfaction. But if you should ever see the real thing you would know it. It is an experience that either you will have in your life or you will never have. However, there is no way you can be sure you will ever see a great heat in competitive surfing unless you go to many surf competitions. But if you ever do see one, finished by a great many flourishes and hacks and top turns and roundhouse cutbacks, you will know it. And Andy Irons arguably surfed one this very day.
There were rumors he had trouble with his shoulder on the Gold Coast. They are the part of the body that are of most vital use to a good surfer. As the trigger finger of a rifleman is sensitive and educated to the tiniest degrees of squeezing to approach and release the discharge of his piece, so it is with his shoulders that a surfer paddles and begins the delicacy of art with the foam and the fiberglass. All the sculpturing he does with the board begins with the shoulders. And it is with the shoulder that the surfer pushes himself to his feet and drives his torso through the series of turns and turns that Bells demands. Andy Irons surfed the first heat of the afternoon when the day is always at its warmest but the water has been cooled by passing breezes. He also surfed directly against Dane Reynolds who possibly changed competitive surfing with one heat against Joel Parkinson on the Gold Coast. A heat when the fans stood on their feet and cheered not only with their lungs but with their hearts.
The aficionados believed, truly, that a new era had dawned but also that the old era had passed. People had already started to say of Andy, “he was a great surfer” speaking only in the past tense. They considered this tour his farewell performance. Andy had, in fact, surfed poorly at Snapper. He had only been a shadow of his former three times champion stature. His arm placement had been all wrong and the boards that he chose seemed to drag through the water as if they were weighed down with lead. Those who witnessed his free surfs around Winkipop, in the days before the heat, also noticed a lack of conviction in his movement. It appeared as if he lost the fire. But the afternoon of the heat, when I last saw Andy he looked like a fit, very fit, butterfly. He had more grace, more looks and was finer looking at 32 than any other surfer in the water of any age. His carves were complete and his lines were beautiful. Each motion linking up directly to each other motion. There wasn’t a stitch out of place. And while the waves were far from exceptional Andy Irons surfed them as well as they could possibly be surfed. He surfed them not with the grace of youth; it was something that does endure, and as I watched him with the grayish sluggish surf, he played as delicately as a spinet, I knew that if the waves beat Andy, and I should see it, that I would know better than to go to any more surf competitions.
Josh Kerr was dropped off tour to prove that no one is safe from competitive restraints. Chris Ward was dropped off because he deals in tragedy and has only himself to blame. The QS warriors who never even make it to the tour are all victims of economics, and some of my best friends in the profession get dropped off tour due occupational disorders that are quite understandable and logical, but for Andy Irons to drop off tour because of poor surfing at Bells Beach would not be irony, nor tragedy, since there would be no dignity. It would be wrong not morally, but aesthetically.- Chas Smith
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