So what's it gonna be Champ? That was my initial thought after reading an interview done by Lewis Samuels on surfline.com yesterday.
After a no show at the Billabong Pro Mundaka—his sponsor's event—and generally uninspired surfing at the Lower Trestles and France events, Three Time World Champion Andy Irons from Kauai answered questions from Samuels that were being asked from Coolangatta to Capbreton and everywhere in-between.
Andy's struggles on the 2008 WCT (World Championship Tour) came to a head when he failed to show up in Mundaka after skipping his round two heat at the Quiksilver Pro France. He had disappeared from the public eye, which led to much internet speculation and rumors galore. He was buying a house in France, on a giant bender, blah, blah, blah—nobody knew what was going on in Andy's head, and apparently, neither did Andy. "What people don’t understand is that I am just as confused as they are," he told Surfline.com.
Later in the article, Andy goes on to say that he won't be going to Brazil for the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro, but then again, hardly any of the big names will be at that event, so that doesn't come as much of a surprise. Instead, AI said that he's in California at the moment, "trying to get my mind right, and taking a break from surfing all together."
Andy’s level of talent has never been in question.
When pressed about his plans for surfing in the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters, Andy was unsure, saying, "I wish I could tell you “yeah, ’cause I love surfing Pipe, but I really don’t know. All I can say is that you won’t see me put on another contest jersey until I am 100% into it."
An athlete getting burned out and taking a break is nothing new, remember, Kelly Slater did just the same thing some years ago, and came back stronger than ever. While he may be confused when thinking about the future (who the hell isn't?), and going on epic freesurf trips with his brother certainly sounds alluring, Irons has the talent to break Slater's lock on ASP World Titles as he's clearly proven in the past. But talent only goes so far—maniacal drive and the animal desire to win are what brought Andy three world titles before, and as he was quoted as saying in the article, he isn't "the guy who wants to eat you for breakfast anymore. That shit will drive you crazy if you stay in that mode for too long."
Three-Time World Champion Andy Irons.
Whatever the result of Andy Irons' self-prescribed "break" from the tour, we here at Transworld SURF wish him only the best and will support him down whatever path he chooses to take. Good luck, Champ!