Irons’ victory shrinks Slater’s ratings lead.
After a crushing finals loss to rival Kelly Slater in the 2005 Billabong Pro J-Bay, you can bet Andy Irons wanted a piece of the six-time world champ. But nobody expected this: perfect, six-foot, typhoon-generated barrels in Japan and the two big dogs of pro surfing going head-to-head in the final.
A dream scenario on the “Dream Tour.”
To use a term that’s being thrown around quite often these days, it was “the best finals ever in WCT history.” This time, however, the claim was spot-on because the surfing these two performed in the final of the Quiksilver Pro Japan was otherworldly, inspired, and just plain freakish.
Andy caught the first wave of the 35-minute final and right off the bat pulled into a deep barrel-with Kelly watching from the shoulder. After exiting, the three-time world champ blasted the lip twice before doing his patented layback power gouge on the inside closeout section.
Score: 9.5 and a load of pressure on Slater from the get-go.
But if there’s anyone in the world who can come back from an early big score it’s Kelly, and from that moment, it was game on as the two went at it toe to toe.
While Andy patiently waited out the back, Slater snagged two excellent and high-scoring waves that put him in the lead and Irons in need of an 8.56. Then it got interesting. As Andy was holding priority, he appeared to paddle for a wave-which meant he would lose it, but the judges saw it otherwise, and Andy’s priority wasn’t taken away.
Slater was visibly pissed at the judges call and raised his arms toward the scaffolding in protest, all the while sitting a mere ten feet from Andy. Undaunted, Irons waited and waited while Kelly tried to increase his lead with a compromised choice of waves.
With time dwindling and pressure mounting, a set feathered on the outer reef of Malibu and AI was all over it. Starting with a big floater/snap on the outside, he backdoored a long, twisting tube through the midsection, came out, did two more turns, and then really nailed the lip as the wave expired.
Victor: Andy Irons. Maybe it was the sweet “Rising Sun” trunks, or the fact that it was a Quiksilver event (they love taking money from each other’s sponsors) that led to his victory, but the reality is that Andy Irons has an incredible talent, drive, and a competitive spirit that’s matched only by Kelly Slater.
Thanks for the show, boys. Can you say Showdown Part Two? To watch the “final of all finals,” go to quiksilver.com.
Results For The Quiksilver Pro Japan
1) Andy Irons (HAW) $30,000
2) Kelly Slater (USA) $16,000
3) Toby Martin (AUS), Tom Whitaker (AUS) $10,000
5) Mick Fanning (AUS), Phil MacDonald (AUS), Troy Brooks (AUS), Taj Burrow (AUS) $8,000
Men’s WCT Ratings After Quiksilver Pro Japan
1) Kelly Slater (USA) 6,374
2) Andy Irons (HAW) 5,796
3) Mick Fanning (AUS) 4,962
4) Trent Munro (AUS) 4,886
5) Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 4,331
6) Taj Burrow (AUS) 4,170
7) Cory Lopez (USA) 3,985
8) Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3,957
9) C.J. Hobgood (USA) 3,956
10) Bruce Irons (HAW) 3,911
Points Separating Slater And Irons: 578
Next Event: Boost Mobile Pro, Lower Trestles, California.
Defending Champion: Joel Parkinson