A SECOND CHRISTMAS: Imagine being a 12-year-old grom in a contest at Pinetrees inside of Hanalei Bay on Kauai. You’ve got your knotted-up contest jersey on. You’ve got 15 minutes to display your stuff to the community. The waves are overhead. All you’re grom bros are hangin’. You’re totally amped. Now imagine Andy and Bruce Irons paddling past you, throwing shakas and smiles, and strutting to the outside, where they proceed to go mental–throwing gouges, spinning fins and launching huge airs. Talk about inspiration!
The 2nd Annual Irons Brothers Pinetrees Classic was held last month on Kauai. These give-back-to-the-community events are great. Rob Machado, Shane Dorian and Conan Hayes, and Ross Williams all hold such events, and I know there are others I’m leaving out, but you get the picture: local heroes come home. The events stoke out the local groms, parents and the local community. They are, by their very nature, rootsy. Hundreds of people showed up for the Hanalei version, with Andy and Bruce being official hosts (Volcom, Billabong, Da Kine, the Princeville Resort and many others folk supported the event).
I can remember staying down on Weke Road during a vacation back in ’93. Two scrawny toe-headed groms just brutalized the Pinetrees closeouts. All the local rats oohed and aahed at every wave Bruce and Andy tore into. All right I admit it, I was oohing and aahing too. Ten years later the kids were still oohing and aahing, as World Champ Andy and uber-ripper Bruce displayed their skills, signed autographs, and hung with the local crew, all weekend long.
“The cool thing about this event is that the kids are too young to have an attitude,” said Phil Irons, who along with his wife Danielle are the brain trust behind the event, not to mention Andy’s and Bruce’s parents. “Everyone is just super stoked…the kids, the parents, everyone. Especially Andy and Bruce.”
Six kids in particular were very stoked. They each received round-trip tickets, courtesy of RedBull, to the NSSA nationals where they will compete for Hawaiian pride. Ironically, they won without winning, which makes this event unique. They were chosen based on a “per need” basis. Many of the families in the region aren’t particularly well off, and paying for airfare to the mainland, along with all the ancillary costs of travel, is beyond their means. Nelson Togioka handles all the administrative duties of running the contest, from set-up to tabulating to judging. But he is also the one, according to Irons, who really has his thumb on the pulse of Kauai amateur surfing. Togioka knows the competitors. He knows the families. He knows each family’s financial situation. “The parents were totally blown away. The plane tickets were a big surprise,” said Irons. “Nelson Togioka does an excellent job, he really runs the whole show. I count on Nelson. He really knows what’s going on with the kids. He makes it run smooth.”
The “per need” basis was also the deciding criteria for the three surfboards that were given away. “Nelson and the boys [Andy, and Bruce] got together and decided who not only deserved a new board, but who needed one,” said Phil. But it wasn’t just the chosen few who scored big prizes. Every competitor walked away with a new Da Kine backpack stuffed with surf goodies. “For a lot of these kids,” said Irons “it’s more stuff than they get at Christmas.”
“HMMM, LET’S SEE, WRESTLING OR SURFING?”: I maintain a vague memory of Dewey Weber and I watching Bill Dice perform Dice’s version of ‘the worm’ on the beer drenched floor of the Manhattan Beach Armory during the 1984 Dewey Weber Longboard Classic party. A helluva party. Dewey Weber was a hotshot surfer in 1960, who gave up a college scholarship in wrestling, borrowed $1500 from his Dad, bought some foam blanks, and started designing and shaping. Dewey’s gone, but his legacy continues with Dewey Weber Surfboards under the ownership of Dewey’s sons, Shea & Corey.
DRINK THIS: Surfrider Foundation has posted a digital version of their newsletter online. Surfrider is “excited about this new resource, which will allow Making Waves to grow in dynamic and interactive new directions.”