2004 QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE: FINAL DAY

posted by / News / October 3, 2004

SURF: 6 to 12 feet Hawaiian (seriously), sunny, offshore all day
EVENTS HELD: Round Four til the French lady sings
NATURE’S CALL: All’s well that ends well
PREDICTED: Creepy crawlings in the Rock Food basementBruce and Andy Irons sit back in their chairs, beers in hand, smiling, laughing, talking story. “How was that barrel you got?” says Andy. “Where did that thing come from?””Don’t know. I was freaking on it, though. Thought I was going right through my fins on the kickout. How’s that Simon working?””Kinda buttery. The thing just holds, man. I thought I was spinning out for sure on a couple of those bottom turns.”As casual and easygoing as the conversation sounds, it didn’t take place on some deck in Hanalei after a fun day at Pine Trees. It took place this afternoon, in the competitors’ area of the Quik Pro France, after Andy pushed his world title lead back over the four-digit mark, Bruce jumped 13 spots in the rankings to an on-the-bubble 28th, and together they made WCT history by surfing in the first brother-on-brother final.

But for Andy and Bruce, there isn’t a need to talk about all the competitive details. They look out at Hossegor’s La Nord lineup and the hypnotizing, triple-overhead walls marching through, endure a couple more bear hugs from their other brother, Sunny Garcia, and keep savoring what is sure to be the first of many Irons v. Irons WCT finals. “I can’t believe this swell!” says Andy. “It’s macking!”Since the Irons brothers won’t put it into context, we’ll do it for you: today we witnessed the biggest and best conditions ever for an ASP event in France. “Best day of the year, for sure,” says Quiksilver’s Steven “Belly” Bell, Aussie expat and Bay of Biscay fixture. “For the second year in a row, the best day of the year came on the final day of the waiting period.”How good was it? Well, you can ask the small army of tow surfers (known in the French tongue as surf tractes), who whipped in all day on the peak just to the north of the contest. With each giant set feathering out the back, you’d see guys like Strider Wasilewski, Gary Elkerton and Laurent Pujol rocket out of the mist and into solid, 12-foot walls, making the warmup area look more like some North Shore Outer Reef.Speaking of the North Shore, those WCT surfers who thought they no longer had to deal with Sunset this year found that it followed them to France. “A lot like Sunset, for sure,” said Garcia, who felt right at home and powered his way to the semis on a beefy 6’10″ pintail. “Sunset without the Inside Bowl.”In fact, this year’s Quik Pro France poster is an illustration of the Basque Coast’s best breaks, with dreamy photos superimposed at each of the spots. Usually these posters are full of fantasy waves, waves you’d never come close to getting during a 10-day window. But at this year’s event, it was even better than the poster. After nine days of whinging and second-guessing, of emergency competitor’s meetings and ultimatums, the heated backroom squabbles washed away with a single, powerful pulse from the Atlantic. Steady offshores all day, strong through the tide swings, balmy, ete indien (Indian Summer) weather, thousands of cheering Euros lining the shoreline…it’s the kind of finish contest organizers dream about.It’s also the kind of finish an Irons fan dreams about. Earlier in the event, we noted how Bruce might be back on track. How luck swung his way in the first round, and how now — at a time when there’s no more room for 33rds — he was starting to click. He survived against Luke Egan yesterday in onshore closeouts, then let it roll today. Bruce told us that WCT heats make him nervous for some reason, that he just needed to go out, have fun and let it flow. His own analysis seemed to work today, as he rolled past Neco Padaratz in Round Four, stomped Victor Ribas in the quarters and then had the heat of his life against Kelly Slater in the semis.

Kelly’s been a great sounding board for Bruce. He offers words of wisdom, heat strategies…whatever he can do to help his cause. Even this morning, he took Bruce aside pointed out the two different takeoff spots and told him to “just relax.” He might want to rethink that advice after their semi. Bruce’s first big score was right in front of Kelly, a long, high-line right tube to mega roundhouse for a 9.63. But then came the dagger. With Kelly sitting out the back with priority, Bruce found a shifting “West Peak” left, drove through it for seconds, then came flying out the other end. The only perfect 10 of the contest.”Kelly, you need a combination of 19.64 points to take the lead,” boomed announcer Dave “The” Mailman.”Has anyone ever done that to Kelly?” wondered Sunny Garcia aloud.To Slater’s credit, he put in yet another incredibly strong showing. Riding a borrowed 6’4″ pintail, he racked up the second highest score of the event in Round Four — a line-drive tube to carve combo for a 9.63. He’s looked like a sure bet (or at least a damn good one) for a win almost every event, but something keeps slowing him down in the final stretch. Today, he was a victim of “overamping.” He saw Andy punish his semi, and he wanted to punish his even worse. He took off on bad waves, over-rotated and missed another opportunity to meet Andy head-to-head. “It’s been two years since we’ve squared off man-on-man,” said Kelly. “And it was at this very event. For some reason, we just can’t get on the same program and settle it in the final.”Whatever program Andy’s on right now, it’s working. On a brand-new Simon Anderson squashtail, he bulldozed through Tim Curran, squeezed past up-and-coming Brazilian Raoni Monteiro in the quarters then had his defining heat against Sunny in the semis. In mid-day offshores, low tide and a peaking swell, Irons backdoored a wide-open left for a 9.0. “I wasn’t even going to go on that thing,” he said, “but then I remembered: Jet Skis.” (The Ski-assist worked wonders today, allowing guys to ride as many as 10 waves in their 30-minute heats. In the old days, they would have been lucky to get two in these conditions.)On Andy’s other standout set, he dropped in and bottom-turned on a massive right wall, taking it right back up in the pocket for a 10-ton snap off the top. Twenty yards further down the line, spray still fell from that initial turn. But then the replay came on the screen in the competitor’s area and showed the truth: the wave was every bit four times overhead. “It’s weird to say this, but you’d have to call that a 12-foot wave,” said Kelly.As much as Andy wouldn’t mind a head-to-head with Slater, it was clear who he was pulling for during the second semi. With Parko a victim of a broken board, a broken fin and three cleanup sets in Round Four, Slates was the only “title chaser” left in the hunt. Time to gain ground. “C’mon, Bruce, let’s see it,” he said.Andy saw it, all right. And then he saw himself waltz right past his little brother for a lopsided win in an anticlimactic final. But nothing was going to spoil the moment back on the competitor’s deck, where Andy and Bruce relished — more than anything — just a great day of surfing. Shouldn’t all the ‘CTs be so easy? With girlfriends Mia and Lindy by their sides, big Sunny giving ‘em a little ribbing…they didn’t even see the dozen tape recorders and cameras in their faces. They were back at Pine Trees.

Then someone handed Andy a new ratings sheet.He noted Bruce’s jump, nodded his head at his 1,184 point lead, then ran his finger down to No. 4, Joel Parkinson. “Porko still has two throwaways,” he said. “Gotta block that guy.”You could see a hint of agitation, the competitive animal briefly welling back up in the two-time-world champ. Then he thought the better of it, crumpled up the paper and grabbed for his beer. “I don’t even want to think about that stuff right now,” he said, leaning back in his chair again. “Those ratings sheets will tweak you.”– Evan SlaterClick here for the Final Day Photo Gallery

Quiksilver Pro France Results
1st Andy Irons (HAW) 17.0 – US$30,000
2nd Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.0 – US$16,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.03 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 13.26
SF2: Bruce Irons (HAW) 19.63 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 5.34
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 17.06 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 13.6
QF2: Andy Irons (HAW) 15.77 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.27
QF3: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.0 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 7.83
QF4: Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.66 def. Victor Ribas (BRA) 10.7
Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
{{{H1}}}: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 14.83 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 7.4
{{{H2}}}: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 10.33 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 0.0 (lost surfboard)
{{{H3}}}: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.5 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 6.8
H4: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.83 def. Tim Curran (USA) 11.84
H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.8 def. Phil MacDonald (AUS) 15.9
H6: Michael Lowe (AUS) 12.34 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.8
H7: Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.1 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.94
H8: Bruce Irons (HAW) 16.34 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 12.6Official ASP Ratings after WCT#8/11
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 7,236-points
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 6,192
3. {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (USA) 5,856
4. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5,808
5. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 5,244
6. Luke Egan (AUS) 4,788
7. Damien Hobgood (USA) 4,680
8. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 4,644
=9. Jake Paterson (AUS), Danny Wills (AUS) 4,584

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