How dominant? Well, put it this way: Do the names Mark Richards and Kelly Slater mean anything to you? Because out of the 15 men who’ve won world titles, Andy, Kelly, and M.R. are the only to go back-to-back-to-back. By surpassing the achievements of celebrated greats like Carroll, Curren, Potter, and Occy, Irons’ dominance can no longer be ignored, not even by him, or you, because face it, if you’re like most everyone else out there, you’re still adjusting to the fact that we’re living under new leadership.
So how did this happen? How good is this guy? And how long can his supremacy last? Perhaps now’s the time we really start asking these questions because, to date, nobody really has.
A quick peek beyond the headlines will help us understand just how heavy-handed Irons has been, and make no mistake, he’s been slapping people around. Over the past three years he’s won a staggering 83 percent of his heats. As of press time, he has 150 wins compared to just 29 losses. But what’s even more impressive is his virtual ownership of the Top 10 over the same period, where his win rate remains at a stunning 82 percent, with 39 wins and only 10 losses. That’s 16 percent better than his closest rival over the same period. “Oh, you mean Kelly Slater?” Ah, no. His closest rival over this period has been Billabong cohort and this year’s title contender Joel Parkinson. Parko has won 66 percent of the vs. the Top 10, with an 18-9 record, and a 73 percent overall win rate. By comparison, Slater’s record vs. the Top 10 is just above the line, at 53 percent over the past three years with a 21-18 record, the he has a 74 percent win rate since coming out of retirement.
What’s so impressive about Andy’s numbers is that he’s accomplished this in an environment where the competitive field is stacked, more so today, perhaps, than at any other time in history. Aside from an ever-expanding list of super freaks, five surfers on tour already have world titles. Depending on whom you ask, there are up to five more legitimate contenders.
Consider the following names on tour: Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, C.J. Hobgood, Damien Hobgood, Taj Burrow, Taylor Knox, Bruce Irons, Dean Morrison, Shane Beschen, Cory Lopez, Mark Occhilupo, Sunny Garcia, Luke Egan, Kalani Robb. Each is familiar with winning at the big league level, and so too are a half dozen other spoilers like Jake Paterson, Michael Lowe, and Neco Padaratz, who consistently lurk in the shadows of their more celebrated peers. One could easily argue this year’s class is the most stacked deck ever assembled. No matter how nostalgic you want to get, you’d be hard pressed to find a larger group all capable of reaching the same lofty realm of high performance on any given day. But it’s Andy Irons who’s consistently reaching down deepest and pulling out his best. When it comes right down to it, that’s why he is the best.