Joel Parkinson’s Tribute To Andy Irons
“Wes [Berg, Joel’s trainer] rang me yesterday morning. I had two missed calls back-to-back from Wes so I knew something must be up. When he finally got me he asked if the kids were around. I told him they were and he told me it was best I just walk away from them for a second. Then he told me what had happened. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I went white and I bawled. Right there on the spot. But then I went into shock and I was in this state of shock all day yesterday. A bunch of us went up to the surf club at Snapper yesterday afternoon and had a few beers and cried and told Andy stories. We were talking about when we went over to the desert in West Oz last year to surf and were there for Occ’s birthday. We surfed that righthander, just me and Andy out surfing together. Then we had to sleep in a two-man tent head-to-toe and he complained the whole time because he hated camping. There were so many memories. I remember flipping a chocolate bar in Japan with him for priority in a heat we had together back in 2003. But that was just one… there were a million of them.
“I think I felt worse today than I did yesterday. I woke up this morning and just bawled because it was real now. Yesterday I was numb with the shock of hearing the news, but I woke up today and it was real. I’m never going to see him again. I’m never going to see my friend. He’s gone. I went and trained at the gym Andy and I used to train at, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was waiting for him just to walk through the door.
“I’m really thinking of the guys over in Puerto Rico right now. I really miss them at a time like this, and it must be really hard for the guys who are still in the contest to have to deal with losing their friend but having to keep on surfing. It sucks for the guys still in it, but the contest has to go on. I’m feeling like all this is happening a long way away, and I’m really missing being around my friends on tour.
“I was supposed to be travelling with Andy this year. Before I cut my foot we had it all sorted out that I was going to be travelling with him for the rest of the year, through California, Europe and Puerto Rico. I was going to be travelling with him and Freddy [Patacchia] and we were all going to be hanging out together as this little team. And we were already talking about travelling together next year, taking the girls and the kids to Tahiti. The thought of him dying alone in a hotel room just wrecks me.
“As a surfer he had that mad dog in him. He wasn’t afraid of anything, and wore his heart on both his sleeves. He was the most emotional surfer I’ve ever seen. He had that unbelievable aggression in his surfing, and he became one of the best. I idolized him. If Andy put his mind to it there was nothing he couldn’t do on a wave, and over the years I’ve seen him do some of the most incredible things on the most incredible waves. He and Kelly, between them, have owned surfing for the past 10 years.
“When I was talking to Mick [Fanning] on the phone yesterday I said to him that I think I understand now how he must have felt when his brother, Sean, died, because Andy was like a brother to me. He was one of my best friends. You know what I liked about Andy? He remembered everyone. He had this ability to remember faces and names and people in places he hadn’t been to in a decade. People meant everything to him, and he made everyone feel special. You didn’t need to be a professional surfer. He’d meet so many people over the years in all the places he’d been, but he’d remember their names and he had time for all of them. He had that quality. He got involved in people’s lives and took an interest in people’s lives. It didn’t matter who you were. And I know he died young, but he lived his life to the fullest, and what he did in 32 years would take most people 132 years.
“My heart goes out to Lyndie, his son, Bruce, his family, his Hawaiian crew and everyone around the world he reached out to.
“Andy was a king; a king of surfing. Love you, mate.”—Joel Parkinson