Kauai’s Final Farewell to Andy Irons

| posted on November 14, 2010

Photo: Noyle

From the moment you get off the plane and head North, you can feel the mounting energy gradually intensify as you head toward Hanalei. Signs are hung intermittently along the highway: “We love you Andy.” “Hanalei loves Lyndie.” “Andy: 1978-Forever.” “You’ll always be our hearts.” Blue ribbons are tied around telephone poles and strung from bridges. The closer you get to the epicenter, the more palpable the emotion.

Thousands of people, everyone in Andy’s life—family, childhood friends, fans, along with most of the Top 44—came together today to honor Andy. But today was more than a paddle out. It was unlike anything Kauai, the surf community, or the world has ever seen before. It was an outpouring of emotion and support and community—time, energy, food, entertainment, and equipment readily donated for a celebration of life that can only be described as amazing.

In accordance with Andy’s wishes, the crowd didn’t form a hand-in-hand circle, but instead gathered just outside the sandbar at Pinetrees and surrounded the boat carrying Bruce, his wife, and Andy’s wife, Lyndie. On Jet skis nearby were Andy’s parents, Phil and Danielle, huddled around them in the water were all of Andy’s closest friends, on nearby canoes were family members, and surrounding all of it were hundreds of other friends and members of the community.

As Bruce stood up, the crowd erupted, splashing water in the air, cheering, and clapping. With emotion and poise, Bruce spoke to the group. “Andy loved all of you here,” he yelled. Tears streamed down everyone’s faces, as they applauded and chanted, “AI…AI…AI…” Overhead, a helicopter circled and dropped thousands of flowers over the procession. Bruce told the crowd that this is what Andy wanted, for his ashes to be spread outside of Pinetrees, and for everyone to celebrate. Choking back tears, Bruce took out the container carrying his brother’s ashes and emptied half into the water. Then, with his arm around Andy’s pregnant wife, passed the rest to her so she could bid her final farewell to her husband. With their faces in their hands, the crowd huddled tightest around the boat sobbed.

Andy’s parents climbed aboard the boat and the family embraced, surrounding Lyndie’s pregnant belly, a tangible symbol of Andy’s lasting legacy. Everyone cheered again, pounding their fists against their boards and throwing leis in the air.

Slowly everyone made their way back to shore, where thousands more gathered on the beach and live music and a full spread of food awaited. Another outpouring of emotion was yet to come, as Andy’s best friends took turns expressing their memories and sentiments, paying their respects on stage.

Occy recounted his most recent trip with Andy to Tahiti. “The pain will go away, but the memories never will,” he said. Luke Egan, Parko, Mick, Corey Lopez, Blair Marlin, and Graham Stapelberg fought back emotion as they expressed their love for Andy, Lyndie, and their unborn child. Then Andy’s crew from home—Kala Alexander, Dustin Barca, Jason Irons, Reef McIntosh, Billy Zietz, Danny DeRohan, Kai Garcia, Keala Kennelly, Rochelle Ballard—expressed just how much Andy meant to Hanalei and to the boys. But the most poignant message from all of the memorial speeches was just how elated Andy was to learn that he was going to be a father. “The best memory I have of Andy was when he found out he was going to be a dad,” said Fred Patacchia. “I’ve never seen him happier.”

With the birth of his son only weeks away, Andy’s legacy lives on.

Photo: Noyle

Photo: Coots

Photo: Coots

The Irons family. Photo: Noyle

Photo: Coots

Bruce, Danielle, Lyndie, and baby Andy Irons. Photo: Coots

Photo: Noyle

Photo: Coots

Bruce, hoisting his brother's board. Photo: Coots

Photo: Noyle

Photo: Noyle

Kala Alexander and the rest of the Kauai crew. Photo: Noyle

Danielle Irons. Photo: Noyle

Photo: Noyle

Photo: Noyle

Photo: Noyle

Dustin Barca, Jesse Merle-Jones, and Danny Fuller. Photo: Noyle

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  • Tom

    Beautiful words. Great tribute.

  • Rum ryan

    Perhaps the most difficult to write and inspiring piece ive ever read. Bless the Irons family for words may never exalt the true depth of Andy’s talent, persona, and transcendence beyond surfing.

  • Jennifer

    Sorry you had to leave Andy. Rest well.

  • Olga-Marie Nantsou

    Such a beautiful, emotive piece. Rest in peace AI…

  • John G. Basehart

    Your Family will shine your light forever , every soul on the planet is thinking of you as you live through your Crystal Child!!!!

  • rita

    amazing tribute!! r.i.p. andy…

  • Sand Sock Girl

    I’m on the other side of the world, and I feel the sadness and yet all the love in celebration of Andy. Rip a true waterman!

  • Rachael

    Great piece… For all of us that could not make the trek home, this was written in a way that it became our farewell that feels as if we were with all of our family and friends sending our love north to our peoples champion A.I. Andy, you will always be alive when the wind blows the pine tree’s in front your favorite place and when the swell’s build and you give the gift of surf to all those you love. In moments like these, an many more, you will always be with us at Pine Tree’s right where you belong… we love you.

  • Carl

    A.I. touched more people than we know, it just goes to show some people are bigger than life itself. Mana to the Irons family. That little guy that will be born in a few weeks does not realize how many uncles and aunties he will have. Hope and pray for peace for the family and da boys, very touching memorial for a person that inspired and touched so many people, not only surfers but everyone. There is a saying, “the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Stay tight and support one another in these tough times, Aloha …

  • sunny miller

    Most Excellent Day of LOVE and ALOHA for our very own HOME GROWN Andy Irons, The Garden loved you and now celebrates your fantastic Champion soul and give you thanks for touching all of our lives the way you did~Aloha Andy and Soar through those Heavenly waves!! Aloha~Sunny (we love you Irons Ohana and KauA.I.

  • Andrew Cambell

    Great surfer and great guy. The world truly mourns the loss of one of the greatest and is a worse off place now that he is gone. You will be missed Andy.

  • Jeff Wannall

    Thank you

  • michael Vigil

    Hi my name is Michael Vigil

    I am a brother and son. I heard the news and in dealing with this, I write songs… this song is for Andy’s newborn son and his family.

    Rest in Peace bro