Q+A Andy Irons

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.
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.

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?

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?

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.