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Q+A Andy Irons

Pro surfer and Hanalei native Andy Irons last month became the first Hawai'i surfer to win three consecutive annual Association of Surfing Professionals World Championships. By the end of the 2004 season, Irons had accumulated a huge 1,200-point lead over the next highest ranking surfer, guaranteeing him the championship even before the final event at Pipeline.
Photo: Jimmy Forrest

Q: What's it like coming back to Hawai'i a world champion?

A: When I went back to Kaua'i, it was awesome. They've got signs up all over town. At my local beach, there's this cardboard sign with glitter and all this crazy stuff all over it, saying, Congratulations Andy! Three Times Champ! It's really cool.

Q: What drives you? Is it an internal thing, or does it help to have rivalries with guys like Kelly Slater?

A: Definitely competing against someone who's won six world titles gets you motivated to try and beat him, but there's always someone surfing really well. Everyone else out there is a threat. I just feed off the general competition.

Q: What are your goals for 2005?

A: Just to back it up again. It's the only thing to do at this point. Once you get the feel for first, you want to stay there as long as possible. Everyone wants to knock you off, and it's weird, everyone's rooting against you after a while, on tour anyway. I think the guys I travel with get sick of one person winning too much.

Q: Do all the sponsorship and media attention ever get in the way of the surfing? Do you wish it was simpler sometimes?

A: I don't let it get in the way. I have managers and accountants who deal with that, and I get paid to go surfing. I think I've done that well. I just tell the people dealing with my money to make sure I have enough to never have to work again. As far as the media, I don't feed into it. I try not to read as much anymore. You can't believe everything you read these days.

Q: How long do you plan to keep competing?

A: For as long as I'm competitive and having fun with it. I'm not going to keep doing it if I'm barely making it on tour. If I've had a really bad year, I'll come back the next year and try to do well again, but if it looks like I'm on my way out, I'm not going to cry over it. I see at least eight years ahead of me.

Q: Who do you see as up-and-comers?

A: Oh man, there's a bunch of them from Hawai'i: Joel Centeio, Fred Patacchia, Kekoa Bacalso. And then the younger generation is just crazy; there are kids between 10 and 15 right now that are really going to be making a mark in a few years. They're starting younger and younger, and they're so tight. I don't know if it's all the surf movies or what, but they're learning to surf good-sized waves with style at a really young age.

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,January

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