Our Favorite Andy Irons Letter

posted by / Letter of the week / November 12, 2010

Andy always was a hero — and an anti-hero. Photo: Jeff Flindt

Andy always was a hero — and an anti-hero. Photo: Jeff Flindt


Not surprisingly, our inboxes (and eyes) were flooded this week after the news of Andy Irons’ death. Most of the messages we got expressed unyielding praise for Andy and his surfing — but the letter below was something different, and in its own way, extra powerful:

I know you’re going to get quite a few letters about Andy Irons, but I implore you to give this one special attention.

The year Andy won the world title where it came down to that one heat at Pipe with Kelly Slater, he was on top of the world…literally. He was living a rock star life, making tons of money, and getting paid to surf the best waves in the world — a lifestyle many of us would be pretty envious of.

A couple of days after he won the title, I drove out to North Shore to get a rare surf in before I had to go to work. I didn’t have much time, so I just parked at Dave Wassell’s house (where I usually stop first) in front of Off The Wall, didn’t even look at the waves, grabbed my board and paddled out.

I surfed OTW for a few waves and saw a couple of barrels over at Backdoor and not many people out, and I paddled over to try and luck into a little barrel or two. There were like four groms out, two sponger chicks, and…Andy Irons. My cousin grew up on Kauai with Andy and Bruce so I had met them several times, so I exchanged head nods with Andy and after looking at my watch realized I had to pretty much catch my next wave in.

A set came in and Andy catches the first wave. I was too deep for the second, so here comes the third wave, about four feet and an absolutely sick Backdoor wave. I’m in perfect position, and there is nobody even around except me. Andy is on the shoulder watching me catch this wave. I catch it and am about to get a really good Backdoor barrel except for Andy looks me right in the eye, gives a little half smile smirk, and just absolutely burns me, causing me to have to straighten out and lay down and go in because I had to go to work.

I was REALLY pissed. Here’s Andy Irons, just won the Triple Crown, Pipe Masters, and the ASP World Title, living just an absolute dream life. Then here’s me just wanting to get a good one before I have to go to work to pay the rent on my shitty duplex in Kalihi.

This experience caused me to hold a grudge against Andy for a long time. I couldn’t think about Andy Irons without thinking about that wave at windy, uncrowded, not-that-good Backdoor. But the fact is I was just blown away by Andy’s surfing — by far my favorite surfer to watch. Andy was, is, and forever will be a legend of the sport of surfing. I cried when I found out about his passing. Even though he did burn me on a really good one at Backdoor with barely anyone out, I still cried.

I’m writing this letter because I forgive you Andy. I finally forgive you.

Much Love, Aloha, Respect, and Condolences to Andy’s Wife, Brother Bruce, Family, and all the Kauai Boys.

Sage Spalding
Haiku, Maui

Tags: ,

Related Posts:

  • yeew!

    well at least you got a smirk and a nod…cuda been some sponger girl in a fullsuit! :)

    peeass…grudges are lame and only hurt the ones holding onto them…

    and who know maybe Andy told the story about how he burned you… :)

  • Chuck VanNatta

    Not sure what to say about the above comment, except please learn to spell and properly edit your smug reply. Especially when adding your two cents to a story about a man admitting he was hurt. That takes more courage than most posses, and not only did he share with us his feelings and his tears, but he also was very honest using his REAL NAME, no shame braddah. Mahalo Sage, I too appreciate your genuine humanity and it’s reality, Aloha…Chuck Van Natta.

  • JH

    Chuck- the word is possess. Aside from that, I like your post.

    RIP AI

  • vevuzela lover

    Actually, to clarify, when using a plural like “most”, it would be proper to say they possess. An individual possesses, many people possess. Are we clear. Great post, forgiveness is an awesome thing.

  • Lumpazoid

    Wow, I had no idea how many English Lit students there were online. Go figure…

  • Asier Ibanez

    When I saw Blue Horizon, i discovered how radical Andy Irons can be as a fierce competitor and thought that the strong rivalry between Kelly and Andy could separate both and the surfers public like StarWars with the light and darkside of life. That September after the Blue Horizon Release in Europe and while i was enjoying the Quik Pro France in Hossegor, there was an afternoon with a new swell arriving to La Graviere, the organization decided to finish the comp for that day and i decided to surf, Shea Lopez and Kalani Rob decided the same and we started the paddle out while big sets broke burning our shoulders. As i arrived to the main peak i could feel the flashes from the beach while Kelly was in a corner to surf such a nice 9`barrels and Andy arrived a few seconds later to the other corner of the compsite . In 10 minutes i was sharing the peak with both and i can tell you that you could feel the respect between them and the friendship. I listened Andy to Kelly ¨Its like Hawaii¨ and both where smiling like children sharing their best toy. I can testify that Media at that moment was wrong and i was so happy to confirm the great relationship between the 2 best competitors in surfing history, that i wanted to share this with you. Greatings from San Sebatian my home in Spain and sorry by my english. My condolences to Irons Family!

  • Donny Kynes

    I think we all felt the truth of what Sages story was trying to tell us and I’d like to thank Sage for telling it in such a simple and meaningful way. Forgiveness relieves us of a burden that sometimes isn’t worth bearing. But I’d also like to say its all good and well to love your enemies but go ahead and love your own goddamn enemies!

  • don jahnsen

    Thatr group of fags will never change from the usa and europe/australia they still are the biggest bunch of rippoffs and idiots around I anm tired of paying for it>give my money back.Overly competitive is what they are and murderous.

  • don jahnsen

    That tim from surfline is the biggest poop fagget rippoff of them all.How the hell do you get rid of them?