Andy Irons vs. Sean Holmes: Al’s universe conspires against him.

Last year at Jeffreys Bay, Andy Irons had his ass well and truly kicked, and Sean Holmes (university student and local wild card) was wearing the steel-toed boot. While AI’s incredible repertoire has earned him trophies from the waist-deep reefs of Tahiti to the cobblestoned shorelines of Trestles and the rivermouths of Europe, at J-Bay it’s his wave selection that pulls the handbrake on his act. And against Sean–who surfs the place as effortlessly as Parko surfs Snapper–this weakness is magnified.

Sean actually lost in the Von Zipper trials, but after Kalani Robb, Shane Dorian, and Mick Campbell all withdrew, he was sucked back into the draw. When announcers made the call during a freesurfing session, Andy’s face turned pale: “What? No way … they’re trippin’!” he exclaimed.

Later, while watching video replay at photographer Pete Frieden’s house, Sean appeared on the screen.

“Who’s that?” asked good buddy Cory Lopez.

“That’s the guy who’s going to beat me,” replied Andy. And sure enough, he did.–J.J.

The full story of the WCT at J Bay apprears on page 152.