Sunday, October 3, 2004 (Hossegor, France) Defending Quiksilver Pro champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) today defeated his younger brother Bruce to win a historic final. In some the best waves ever witnessed in France, the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) commenced with round four heats and ran through until the US$260,000 event climaxed. The ‘Evian’ Expression Session was also decided this afternoon.
Flawless 8-12 ft+ (2.5-4m+) surf was on offer at Hossegor’s ‘La Nord’ site — reminiscent of perfect Sunset Beach, Hawaii. Special thanks must be given to the Jet Ski drivers who not only took surfers out into the lineup, but also kept a close eye on their safety throughout the day. Tens of thousands of spectators watched live from the shoreline, or on www.quiksilver.com/profrance.
In their first head-to-head WCT final, Andy and Bruce entered the 35-minute clash as the two main standouts of today’s amazing show. The reigning two-time world champion and current ratings leader had bettered his scores throughout each round, and faced with his brother, immediately applied similar pressure after a 9-point opening barrel ride. He then backed this up with another 8.0 for a commanding lead. Having lost a crucial heat to Bruce in California last year, the victory was sweet revenge, as well as his second WCT title for the season. The 26-year-old is now 1,044 ratings points ahead of his nearest rival.
“I’m beside myself, began Andy. “Probably one of the most memorable wins of whole my life. To have my brother in it, and be in the south of France with 10-foot waves… It was awesome. You’d catch a good wave and get a Jet Ski right back out. It was a dream day, and everything worked in my favor.
“I’m really proud of him, he added, of Bruce’s performance. “He’s gotten over a hump, which is great. I think losing at Trestles (USA) and getting a 33rd was a blessing for me. It brought me back to reality and made me surf smart. ‘Parko’ (Joel Parkinson) has two wins this year also, so I can see him, Kelly and CJ all being major threats still. It’s probably all going to come down to Pipeline again, but right now I just want to savoir this win.
For 23-year-old Bruce, today’s result was a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy ‘Rookie’ season. Having failed to progress further than round three in any previous event, he was situated 41st on the ratings and in serious danger of losing his position on next year’s elite tour. Following a stellar semifinal against six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) — highlighted by the Quiksilver Pro’s only perfect 10, the Kauaian made a massive jump into 28th spot and gained the confidence boost he’s been lacking.
“I did not expect to see waves like this today, began Bruce. “I’ve had such a bad start to the year, so to do well here… I’m really stoked, especially to surf the final against my brother. It was just like we were at home, which was cool. Seems like I got all my good waves in the semis, but to beat Kelly with the kind of scores he usually gets, I was really happy.
“I’ll just take it event by event, and heat by heat, he continued, on trying to re-qualify. “I’ve had bad luck this whole season, so to finally get on the ball feels good, and like what I should have been doing.
Equal third were 2000 world champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) and Slater. Both received US$10,000.
Garcia, who received an ASP wildcard this season following major reconstructive knee surgery in 2003, powered his way into the semifinals to face good friend Andy. The 34-year-old fought back towards the end with a great 8.83 ride, but still required another 9.2 score to match Irons’ 18.03 tally.
“Thankfully they postponed the contest yesterday, as when I woke up this morning and came down I saw perfect waves like Sunset, explained Garcia. “I’m stoked to make the semis. I lost to the current ratings leader and two-time world champ, and he was going off. I was surfing well, but unfortunately didn’t gett any waves. I’m happy with this result and should be able to re-qualify for next year.
Slater opened his campaign this morning with a near-perfect 9.63 ride, but against Bruce in the semifinals, it was his opponent who upped the ante. First he equaled the Floridian’s top score, before earning the only 10-point ride and highest combined tally of the Quiksilver Pro. The 32-year-old then required a near-perfect total of 19.64-points. His third consecutive semifinal finish in France, today’s result consolidates his high rating, but did nothing to gain ground on Andy’s commanding lead.
“One of the best days ever for surf in France at a contest, stated Slater. “There were incredible waves to be had, I just couldn’t quite tune into them. Bruce just had what might be the highest scoring heat of his career, and was totally in sync out there. He went off and there was nothing I could do. It’s good for him, as he needed a result to get back on tour.
“I’ve had three thirds in a row at this contest, he continued. “It’s starting to bug me, but it could be worse (laughs). I came third last year and then went to Mundaka and won, with a similar points spread to Andy. At this point we’ve just got to hope he has a couple of bad results cause he’s been making semis or better almost every contest.
Finishing equal fifth in the Quiksilver Pro were Brazilians Peterson Rosa (best result of season), Raoni Monteiro and Victor Ribas, together with Australian Michael Lowe -winner of the Quiksilver Pro on Australia’s Gold Coast earlier this year.
Monteiro secured his best result to date, losing a tight exchange to Andy. The 22-year-old impressed all with his committed surfing, and actually held the lead towards the end before his opponent locked in a final 7.1 score to advance. Still, he alleviated some ratings pressure by moving into 27th spot and closer to ensuring his re-qualification for 2005.
“I feel so good, said Monteiro. “This is the best result of my whole career, and first quarterfinal. I felt so comfortable in these waves. Andy is not easy though (laughs), he’s the two-time world champion. I tried my best, and surfed hard in the pocket.
World #4 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS) – winner of the last WCT in California – was narrowly beaten this morning by Ribas in round four. The Australian still holds down fourth position on the current ratings.
The ‘Evian’ Expression Session took place after the final, with epic waves still on offer. Cory Lopez took out the main prize of US$5,000 for a huge forehand aerial. Californian Tim Curran collected US$3,000 for his boost, while France’s wildcard Fred Robin finished third for a US$2,000 bonus.
“I had a nice air section, did a pretty big aerial, landed backwards and then spun around, explained Lopez. “Really stoked to win five grand for it, so thanks to ‘Evian’.
A phenomenal tow-in session also transpired throughout the day, with a handful of France’s leading big-wave surfers giving a stunning display.
Quiksilver Pro France Results
1st Andy Irons (HAW) 17.0 – US$30,000
2nd Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.0 – US$16,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.03 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW)
SF2: Bruce Irons (HAW) 19.63 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 5.34
Official ASP Ratings after WCT#8/11
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 7,236-points
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 6,192
3. CJ Hobgood (USA) 5,856
4. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5,808
5. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 5,244
6. Luke Egan (AUS) 4,788
7. Damien Hobgood (USA) 4,680
8. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 4,644
=9. Jake Paterson (AUS), Danny Wills (AUS) 4,584