Bruce Irons’ first wave on the WCT proved that the younger brother of World Champ Andy Irons has what it takes to make a serious impact of competitive surfing’s fiercest competition series and then some. On Tuesday Bruce surfed in the first heat of the Quiksilver Pro, drawing one of the better Brazilians on tour, Paulo Moura, and last year’s winner, Snapper local Dean Morrison.
Bruce caught the first wave of the heat, just a few minutes after the horn signaled the start of the competition, pulled into a five-second barrel, came out clean and did several turns with trademark Brucey style—shoulders and hands down, head cocked, and so casual it seems like he doesn’t even have to try. At 8:05 a.m. on Tuesday, Bruce was leading the WCT, and it looked like he’d instantly adapted to the new format.
In a press conference the day before, member of the surf media and interviewers from Australian news programs asked Andy what he thought his brother’s chances were on the WCT this year. Andy responded that it’ll probably take Bruce a few contests to get used to the format of the ‘CT, but once he understands the format and finds his rhythm, the competition should look out.
Ten minutes into the heat Dean Morrison came charging. Last year’s winner (who beat Occy to win his first WCT contest), Morrison employed his local knowledge, catching waves as if he’d been told ahead of time which ones were going to connect all the way through. Bruce’s luck changed for the worse, and he spent the rest of the heat searching for a repeat to his first. None were to be had, though, and when the final horn sounded, Dean had won with a 14.33, Bruce had finished second with a 9.40, and Moura came in a close third with 8.33.
In Round Two, the first round of man-on-man single elimination, Bruce drew Byron Bay’s Danny Wills. An excellent surfer, Wills is another WCT competitor with experience and local knowledge, which turned out to be the difference in the heat. The waves were bigger for Round Two, and Bruce struggled to find one that would give him workable face or a drivable tube. Wills on the other hand, picked off several long ones, eliminating Bruce from his first WCT event.
Andy’s prophecy seems correct so far. Bruce showed signs of brilliance, but he got beat by guys who’ve already had experience with the WCT’s format. But if it’s local knowledge that counts, and if experience is the one of the keys to unlocking the door to winning on the ‘CT, it seems likely that Bruce will only improve—a scary thought when you consider how good he already is. And everyone better look out in Tahiti and Hawaii, where Brucey will be extremely hard to beat.