Andy Wins Carbon-Copy Of Triple Crowns

Hawaii’s Andy Irons duplicated his clean sweep of professional surfing at the Banzai Pipeline today, winning the three most coveted awards in the sport: the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title, and the Association of Surfing Professionals world title. It was a carbon copy of his result here last year. Pushing six-time world champion Kelly Slater to the very last heat of the year, Irons, 25, handled the pressure of being ranked second in the world coming into this event to emerge victorious. His payoff was a $30,000 Xbox winner’s check, a $7,500 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing bonus, and a second consecutive world crown. He is the only surfer to ever win all three titles two years in a row.

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Riding out the tail end of a powerful north swell, the final four rounds of the $250,000 Xbox Pipe Masters were held in grueling 6-8 foot waves at the right-hand break of Backdoor Pipeline. Competitors battled a freight-train rip current as they tussled for the hollowest waves, running 150 yards along the beach after each ride to paddle back out for more. By the day’s end, all four finalists had surfed a total of four arduous 30 minute heats. Along the way, countless surfboards were smashed by waves as competitors pushed deeper and deeper for the highest scoring tubes. Irons alone broke two. Florida’s Shea Lopez was the only physical casualty, rupturing the medial ligament of his knee when he was crushed by white-water during a closeout maneuver in the quarter finals.

The final consisted of the two world title challengers and a pair of Australians in Joel Parkinson and Phil MacDonald. Slater, 31, posted the first real score of the final in a tactical move, surfing a break known as “Gums” just to the right of the Pipeline lineup and immediately in front of his rented Pipeline house. A short tube ride of three points came close to foretelling the kind of final Slater was up against. While he later moved over to join the other competitors at Backdoor, he struggled to find any wave of real value and was eventually forced into fourth place.

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Irons was the first to score highly, riding deep and long through a dredging Backdoor barrel for what would be the highest wave of the heat – an 8.33 point ride that sent the 10,000 strong crowd of Irons supporters into a cheering frenzy. Hot on his tail was MacDonald, answering back with a similarly brilliant ride that earned 8.27 points, and Parkinson notched up a couple of average scores that kept him in contention.

Slater made the next move, trying to keep a hold of his world title hopes with a couple of short tube rides that didn’t do much to help his cause. Then Parkinson broke out with a clean tube ride and close-out floater for 6.5 points – enough to edge him into the lead. But with seven minutes left on the clock, Irons caught his final ride of 6.83 points, weaving his way through the Backdoor to shoot to first. Following that, nothing of any real worth came through for Slater, MacDonald only managed 1.33 for his second and final tube ride attempt, Parkinson scored his last and best ride of 7.9, but none of it was enough to topple Irons from his perch. The final seconds were counted down as the beach rose to a giant cheer for Irons and Slater paddled over to give the champ a victory hug. The final score line showed 15.16 for Irons, 14.4 for Parkinson, 9.6 for MacDonald, and 9.17 for Slater.

“I was a ball of nerves the whole day, it was so emotional,” said Irons after the final. “I started getting really bad cramps in the semis and I broke a couple of boards… I didn’t think it would come out this way, but this is a dream come true. This is the stuff I dreamed of as a kid. I got to watch it and now I’m living it. It hasn’t sunk in yet, that’s for sure.

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“The final was psycho. I saw Kelly surfing way up at Gums and was wondering what he was doing, and if he had something up his sleeve. I saw il get a good one while I was on the beach, after I buckled my board. It was just one of those finals. I was so tired and sore… I couldn’t wait to hear the countdown, but my watch actually stopped at 12-minutes, so I thought it was 12-minutes forever (laughs).

“My stomach has been in knots for weeks, so I’m just happy it’s over. I’m just trying to soak it up and enjoy it.

“Kelly said it was one of the best days of his career. For me to hear that was just amazing. He said he’d never had such a rad title race, and tried so hard. For him to say that was just the biggest compliment. I still look up to him. He sets the scale and the standard. To see what he’s done in the past and be able to go head-to-head with him was just amazing.”

While Slater has tussled with the possibilities of the world title race for months now, his second place finish still came as a tough, emotional moment. As his peers returned to shore to soak up the moment, Slater sat out in the water for at least another half hour, gathering his thoughts. Had he won the title here today, he was considering retirement. It was also a dream of his to win today in honor of his father, who passed away last year. Instead, he found himself on stage, actually presenting the world title cup to Andy and making a runner-up speech.

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“I just want to say thanks to everybody – thanks to Andy,” Slater said on stage. “I had an amazing year – one of the best of my life. I never enjoyed myself so much competing and we were just back and fourth. It was awesome. One of us had to win and one of us had to lose. It couldn’t have happened a better way. I was stoked we both made the final. I wish we both would have got afew more good waves in the final, but that’s the way it goes. I want to thank my family and my girlfriend. Just all my friends who were here. I’d like to dedicate this year to my dad. I didn’t win, but I did this for him. Congratulations Andy.

“It was an amazing year. After Brazil I said the only thing that could happen to really top this thing off would be for us both to make the final. We got first and fourth, and it didn’t matter if I was second or fourth, it was just about trying to pull ahead of Andy in the final. It had to come to a climax and the amount of pressure that was on, and in the air… the tension was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I just had to really keep myself together through every heat.

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“I came close to losing my heat this morning, and then I put in two good heats after that. If I’d had my semifinal waves in the final I would have won the contest, but I just kind of peaked one heat early. I probably should have stayed a bit closer to my game plan in the final. I was going to surf over at Gums, as I ended up seeing some really nice waves over there. I think if I’d done that I could have at least still been in the game. The way it was I didn’t even have one really good wave.

“I think I’ll be back next year. It was going to be up in the air if I won this year, what I’d do next year. I had such an enjoyable time this year competing and traveling. It was like a whole new year for me. I feel like I won in a lot of ways. I mean, I had a better year this season than I did a lot of years I won the world title. So, you’ve got to hand it to Andy.”

Parkinson posted  a personal best at Pipeline today, going way further than his previous best of a quarter final finish. He rounded out the year at fifth in the world.

“I’ve made a few quarters this year,” said 22-year-old Parkinson, “but haven’t gone much farther, so I’m happy. All I was really here to see is the Kelly and Andy showdown (laughs).”

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Phil MacDonald, 24, beat Kelly in the semi-finals in France this year in what was possibly a turning point in the title race, bringing it all down to Hawaii. Today he placed ahead again for a final finish of 13th in the world.

Irons’ younger brother Bruce, himself a previous Xbox Pipe Masters champion, almost had a chance at playing spoiler today but just fell short of his own goal of facing off against his brother and Slater in the final. He lost to Slater and MacDonald in the second semi-final for a fifth place finish. Equal fifth with him was Luke Hitchings (Aust). Fourth place recipients in the semi’s were wildcard Pancho Sullivan (Hawaii) and Cory Lopez (Florida), who placed equal seventh.

Myles Padaca (Hawaii) won the afternoon’s Foster’s Expression Session and offered his sentiments on the day on stage: “It was a really special day and is going to go down in the history of all the surf lore and legend books. You couldn’t ask for a better show today. I take my hat off to Andy and Kelly. It was the most spectacular thing to happen in surfing for a long time and it feels great to be a part of it.”

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Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters
1st Andy Irons (Haw) 15.16 – US$30,000
2nd Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.4 – US$16,000
3rd Phil MacDonald (Aus) 9.6 – US$11,000
4th Kelly Slater (USA) 9.6 – US$9,000

Semifinals (1st, 2nd>Final; 3rd=5th receives US$8,500; 4th=7th receivesUS$7,500)
SF1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 15.9; Andy Irons (Haw) 15.17; Luke Hitchings (Aus)11.57; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 8.83
SF2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.6; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.3; Bruce Irons (Haw)11.5; Cory Lopez (USA) 7.06

Quarterfinals (1st, 2nd>Semifinals; 3rd=9th receives US$5,500; 4th=13threceives US$4,500)
QF1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.83; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 12.93; Kieren Perrow(Aus) 12.8; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 8.1
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.4; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 12.33; Shea Lopez (USA)8.27; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 5.8
QF3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.8; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 9.67; Beau Emerton (Aus)6.0; Dean Morrison (Aus) 5.4
QF4: Bruce Irons (Haw) 17.33; Cory Lopez (USA) 11.8; Kalani Robb (Haw) 9.14;Derek Ho (Haw) 4.03

Round Three (1st, 2nd>Quarterfinals; 3rd, 4th=17th receive US$4,000)
H1: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 14.57; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 13.63; Damien Hobgood(USA) 12.73; Nathan Hedge (Aus) 12.37
H2: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.33; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 12.4; Victor Ribas(Brz) 10.34; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 9.75
H3: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 16.93; Shea Lopez (USA) 12.33; Fabio Gouveia (Brz)7.5; Luke Egan (Aus) 3.36
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.27; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 11.03; Guilherme Herdy
(Brz) 9.66; Peterson Rosa (Brz) 2.67H5: Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.2; Kelly Slater (USA) 11.33; Kalani Chapman(Haw) 9.67; Trent Munro (Aus) 8.34H6: Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.83; Dean Morrison (Aus) 10.56; Danny Wills (Aus)10.03; Tim Curran (USA) 8.7H7: Kalani Robb (Haw) 14.23; Derek Ho (Haw) 13.83; Mick Fanning (Aus) 11.94;Paulo Moura (Brz) 10.76H8: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.23; Bruce Irons (Haw) 12.87; Mick Lowe (Aus) 9.73;Neco Padaratz (Brz) 9.24Official ASP Ratings After The Xbox Pipeline Masters, WCT #12/121. Andy Irons (Haw) 8,964-points2. Kelly Slater (USA) 8,5443. Taj Burrow (Aus) 7,3444. Mick Fanning (Aus) 7,0805. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 6,9726. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 6,4807. Taylor Knox (USA) 6,0008. Michael Lowe (Aus) 5,8209. Jake Paterson (Aus) 5,77210. Dean Morrison (Aus) 5,592box Pipe Masters champion, almost had a chance at playing spoiler today but just fell short of his own goal of facing off against his brother and Slater in the final. He lost to Slater and MacDonald in the second semi-final for a fifth place finish. Equal fifth with him was Luke Hitchings (Aust). Fourth place recipients in the semi’s were wildcard Pancho Sullivan (Hawaii) and Cory Lopez (Florida), who placed equal seventh.

Myles Padaca (Hawaii) won the afternoon’s Foster’s Expression Session and offered his sentiments on the day on stage: “It was a really special day and is going to go down in the history of all the surf lore and legend books. You couldn’t ask for a better show today. I take my hat off to Andy and Kelly. It was the most spectacular thing to happen in surfing for a long time and it feels great to be a part of it.”

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Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters
1st Andy Irons (Haw) 15.16 – US$30,000
2nd Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.4 – US$16,000
3rd Phil MacDonald (Aus) 9.6 – US$11,000
4th Kelly Slater (USA) 9.6 – US$9,000

Semifinals (1st, 2nd>Final; 3rd=5th receives US$8,500; 4th=7th receivesUS$7,500)
SF1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 15.9; Andy Irons (Haw) 15.17; Luke Hitchings (Aus)11.57; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 8.83
SF2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.6; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.3; Bruce Irons (Haw)11.5; Cory Lopez (USA) 7.06

Quarterfinals (1st, 2nd>Semifinals; 3rd=9th receives US$5,500; 4th=13threceives US$4,500)
QF1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.83; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 12.93; Kieren Perrow(Aus) 12.8; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 8.1
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.4; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 12.33; Shea Lopez (USA)8.27; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 5.8
QF3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.8; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 9.67; Beau Emerton (Aus)6.0; Dean Morrison (Aus) 5.4
QF4: Bruce Irons (Haw) 17.33; Cory Lopez (USA) 11.8; Kalani Robb (Haw) 9.14;Derek Ho (Haw) 4.03

Round Three (1st, 2nd>Quarterfinals; 3rd, 4th=17th receive US$4,000)
H1: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 14.57; Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 13.63; Damien Hobgood(USA) 12.73; Nathan Hedge (Aus) 12.37
H2: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 14.33; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 12.4; Victor Ribas(Brz) 10.34; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 9.75
H3: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 16.93; Shea Lopez (USA) 12.33; Fabio Gouveia (Brz)7.5; Luke Egan (Aus) 3.36
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.27; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 11.03; Guilherme Herdy
(Brz) 9.66; Peterson Rosa (Brz) 2.67H5: Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.2; Kelly Slater (USA) 11.33; Kalani Chapman(Haw) 9.67; Trent Munro (Aus) 8.34H6: Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.83; Dean Morrison (Aus) 10.56; Danny Wills (Aus)10.03; Tim Curran (USA) 8.7H7: Kalani Robb (Haw) 14.23; Derek Ho (Haw) 13.83; Mick Fanning (Aus) 11.94;Paulo Moura (Brz) 10.76H8: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.23; Bruce Irons (Haw) 12.87; Mick Lowe (Aus) 9.73;Neco Padaratz (Brz) 9.24Official ASP Ratings After The Xbox Pipeline Masters, WCT #12/121. Andy Irons (Haw) 8,964-points2. Kelly Slater (USA) 8,5443. Taj Burrow (Aus) 7,3444. Mick Fanning (Aus) 7,0805. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 6,9726. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 6,4807. Taylor Knox (USA) 6,0008. Michael Lowe (Aus) 5,8209. Jake Paterson (Aus) 5,77210. Dean Morrison (Aus) 5,592