Irons Defeats Egan To Win Billabong Pro Teahupoo

Irons Defeats Egan For Consecutive WCT Wins

Current ASP ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw) today greatly extended his position by defeating Luke Egan (Aus) to win The 2002 Billabong Pro Teahupoo. In doing so, he won his second consecutive World Championship Tournament (WCT) and collected another US$30,000 in prizemoney.

Surf was 3-5ft (1-1.5m) most the day, with clean barrels on offer, but unfortunately the decreasing swell led to more inconsistent heats toward the business end.

Irons, long considered one of the best at Teahupoos notorious reef break, today cemented his reputation with the title he wanted most. Having won a World Qualifying Series (WQS) event here in 1997, and then the Trials division in 2000, the 23 year old charged all week, posting the highest overall total during his semifinal match for 26.6-points.

Against Egan in the 40-minute final the Hawaiian appeared to have done his dash too soon, falling the first five attempts as his opponent took control. Just after halfway, however, he secured the best score for a 9.0, and then took the lead with another good ride near the end. The Australian regained the top spot during the closing seconds, but Irons was on the next, better wave, and secured a 7.25 for victory.

[IMAGE 3]”Oh my gosh”, began an overwhelmed Irons, still surrounded by friends and media in the water. “Two in a row, double whammy. Now I feel stupid I started counting myself out” (during the final). Louie started off with a really good score and came back at the end with a late drop. Hes just such a fierce competitor. I was waiting for him to just nail it, but there were no waves. I cant believe. Its like a dream right now.

Thank Hedgey, he yelled to vocal Egan supporter and fellow contestant Nathan Hedge, holding up his celebratory Hinano beers. They were all pumping Louie up and I was getting frustrated. Then that wave came to me and I was lucky to be spat out of the barrel. Right til the endĂȘ he got the score he needed, but I was lucky to get the one behind him. I knew it was close.

Thats still so far down the line, he added, of the world title. I just wanted a Teahupoo title more than anything. Ive won here as a grom when it was a WQS, but CTs are the big league, so to actually have one here is incredible.

Afterward the interviews, he rode to shore on the back of a Jet Ski with his girlfriend, and Billabong Pro Teahupoo womens champion Keala Kennelly, also from the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

Egan, 32, looked to set to claim his third WCT from the outset with a 7.75, but slowly watched his lead dissolve. Needing a 5.91 during the last minutes, he used priority on the first wave of the final set to post a 6.0, but after Irons following ride, he required another 8.16-points. Nonetheless, the result is his best in two years and moved him into fourth position on the current ratings.

It was the only mistake I made all heat and it cost me the final, reasoned Egan, of the last exchange. I still bettered my score, but if I hadnt gone I would have had priority and got that last wave and then it would have been on. Credit to him, though. Hes probably been the best surfer all event, so its well deserved. Two in a row now, hes looking pretty good for a world title.

I had four radical games of chess and just lost my last one in the last couple of seconds, he explained, of tactics throughout the day. Im happy with second. Its the best Ive done in a while and were off to Fiji (for the next WCT), where Ive won before.

Equal third in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo were Trent Munro (Aus) and Kalani Robb (Haw). Munro, 23, was stopped by Irons in a fairly one-sided heat, requiring 13.86-points when it concluded.

I guess I was out of rhythm and he was in, conceded Munro. I couldnt do anything but sit and wait for a wave that didnt come. Thats just the way it goes in this game. Im happy, as its a good result. I would have liked to maake the final, but theres always next time.

[IMAGE 1]Robb, 25, also suffered a wave starved clash against Egan. Despite making late charges in most of his heats, he was unable to do likewise during the semifinal.

In the heat before, and all day there had been tons of waves coming though, said Robb. I was confident, but you cant do anything without the waves. I would have loved to be in the final with Andy.

Its only the beginning, he continued, of this years season. Ive just been really stoked watching Andy. Hes doing really well and has been pushing me a lot. Hopefully I get some waves in Fiji next week.

Finishing equal fifth today were Peterson Rosa (Brz), Shea Lopez (USA), Damien Hobgood (USA) and his brother, reigning world champion CJ Hobgood.

Rosa, 27, flew the Brazilian flag furthest in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, but was stopped by Munro in the first quarterfinal needing 9.51-points.

I found some barrels but I couldnt make it out, said Rosa. Its a great result for me and Ill keep trying to do well in the next contest.

Lopez, 28, opened his quarterfinal against Irons with a great 9.25 score, but had to sit and listen as the Hawaiian then picked off a near-perfect 9.8 and ultimately advanced.

Nobody would have made that 9.8, said Lopez, of his opponents top score. Thats the Andy factor out here.

CJ, who began his quarterfinal against Robb with a 9.0, then had his surfboard leash stuck on the back of the Jet Ski after being assisted back into the lineup. The tangle up cost him dearly, as his opponent was paddling nearby and was ultimately awarded priority by the ASP head judge for the next wave, where he secured his best score for an 8.8. While seven minutes remained, he was unable to find the 7.76-points he then required.

There was a judgment call that didnt go my way with the Jet Skis, explained Hobgood. I was the last person to catch a wave, and the first on the ski. Kalani decided not to use the ski, and we ended up out there at the same time. My leash got stuck on the ski, but they gave priority to him. He got the next wave and scored an 8.8 and then I lost the heat.
[IMAGE 2]Kalani surfed a great heat, he continued. He came back and beat me, so he deserves it. Its hard to take though, as I feel like human error maybe cost me doing better in the contest. I’ll just have to try harder in Tavarua. Andys getting a bigger lead and we want to catch him.

Defending Billabong Pro Teahupoo champion Cory Lopez (USA) was eliminated first heat today, when Egan posted a 9.0 and then held off a late charge from the Floridian.

Official results of the 2002 Billabong Pro Teahupoo
1st Andy Irons (Haw) 22.65 – US$30,000
2nd Luke Egan (Aus) 20.5 – US$16,000

Semifinals (defeated finish =3rd; receive US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 26.6 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 17.0
SF2: Luke Egan (Aus) 19.75 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 13.15

Quarterfinals (defeated finish =5th; receive US$8,000)
QF1: Trent Munro (Aus) 20.25 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.65
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 23.75 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 19.65
QF3: Luke Egan (Aus) 20.1 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.65
QF4: Kalani Robb (Haw) 23.65 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 23.3

Round Four (defeated finish =9th; receive US$5,000)
H5: Luke Egan (Aus) 21.25 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 20.4
H6: Damien Hobgood (USA) 23.4 def. Shane Dorian (Haw) 23.0
H7: CJ Hobgood (USA) 23.2 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 11.4
H8: Kalani Robb (Haw) 17.4 def. Pat OConnell (USA) 16.15

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