“I’m back!” Andy Irons said after winning the Billabong Pro in Tahiti Friday.
The grin on his face was one we haven’t seen in years.
This was the Andy Irons the world fell in love with during his three world title runs in 2003, ’04 and ’05. The Andy Irons who almost made us forget about that Kelly guy for awhile.
Inner-demons are a constant struggle for Andy Irons. He’ll be the first to admit it. While much has been made of his recent trip into the mental abyss, it was hardly his first run in with life’s dark side.
Andy lives hard, burning at max power regardless of who’s driving and where the road ahead leads. When one pushes that hard there’s usually nothing left to bottle emotions. They surface unfiltered, readily viewable for the world to see.
That level of intensity is Andy Irons’ natural state. Taming that beast…bottling that fire, keeping in harnessed for positive purposes is something he’s struggled with since he was a kid: sitting in a classroom, dealing with his pesky little brother, waiting out a flat spell, even a crappy movie.
“After losing my first contest to a girl I couldn’t come back for a year,” he admits in his recent “Why I Surf” video. That’s how pissed he was at himself. Nobody’s tougher on Andy than Andy.
Friday we saw the happier side of Andy.
The Andy Irons who cuts himself some slack. The guy who keeps the past in the past. The man appreciative for everything he has, and has to lose.
To be clear, Andy Irons’s surfing isn’t at 100%. The rust is still plainly visible. But by wining the Billabong Pro today, he’ll be even more determined to shake the rest off. And very few surfers can win an event at this level when they’re approaching 80%.
Andy Irons, the beast, just got his first taste of ASP meat since 2007. Now is when the real comeback begins. With his victory, Irons is sitting in the number 7 spot.
Key to his success now are the forces in his life helping him keep the beast tamed, focused on channeling his endless energy into things that net positive results…be it burning calories, trimming hedges, washing cars or winning heats.
With a kid on the way, rest assured something biological will be sharpening his focus. Kids have a way of doing that.
Yes, Friday we saw the happier side of Andy Irons. Here’s hoping we see a lot more of him this year, because if he’s really back he’ll me making things a lot more interesting.