And Kuta Wept

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Another Andy Irons Memorial in Bali

By Nathan Myers
Photos by Seewah Chou

It was the largest paddle I’ve ever seen…so far. But I suspect it won’t be for long. We’ll be heading to the North Shore soon, and the ghost of Andy Irons is coming with us.

More than 500 people assembled on Kuta Beach, Bali yesterday to pay their respects to the tragic passing of our three time champion. All the Bali pros: Rizal, Tipi, Garut, Mega, Marlon, Lee… All the usual ex-pats: Snake, Mikala, Machado… Local industry. Visiting bros. Random Germans. Hans Hedemann and Evan Slater. It felt like family.

We tossed flowers. Splashed the water. Observed a silence.

It was a paddle-out. It was emotional.

“I was just talking to him the other day,” local pro Betet Merta told me. “He was talking about coming over here and how excited he was to get back. When I see his surfing on TV now I almost cry. I feel like he’s still coming. I just don’t believe it.”

After the ceremony, people convened by at Un’s Hotel, where Andy’s boards and photos still hang on the wall. Brian Bielman’s touching slideshow tribute played. Machado jammed with legendary street artist Banksy. And everyone shared their memories over Bintangs and arakaritas.

Andy touched a lot of lives here. He was more than a hero in Indonesia, he was a friend. A kindred spirit. He was happy here. When his plane landed on Bali, people got excited. Andy was in town.

There’s a common thread to all these memorials. Andy Irons was the People’s Champ. He is mourned as much by drivers, doormen and ding-repair dudes as his fellow pros and rock-stars. And that says a lot.

Night fell and the Bali sky wept. It’s been like this all week.