Surfing’s Heart and Soul

Shea Lopez on Slater's victory on the anniversary of Andy Irons' death

| posted on November 02, 2011

Before the event got started today in Ocean Beach, surfers paddled out in memory of the late Andy Irons. Photo: Ellis

Today was a good day. Which was surprising considering it was one year to the day since I got that text confirming that my good friend Andy Irons had passed away. I had anticipated the flood of emotions as I lumbered through my morning routine. A few calls to mutual friends and family motivated me to watch some old home footage of Andy and I having fun as kids. We’d talked about the tapes for years, but today it felt right to dig them up. So with The Search San Francisco on one screen and pine trees on another, we remembered the past, while we couldn’t believe the present.

Andy loved upsets and underdogs. In SF today, all but 3 or 4 heats could be considered upsets.

Kieren Perrow showed tremendous ocean knowledge as he surfed two perfect heats in his wins over Fanning and de Souza.

Taylor Knox was quick, precise, and powerful. All but dead in the water at the mid-year rotation, it looks like we will get another year from one of the best ever.

Brett Simpson put it all together today. Pulling off a last minute win vs Damo, then thrashing Julian in every facet of their heat. This is the Simpo that won back-to-back US Opens and should be talked about with the likes of Jordy, Owen, Julian, Medina who will all be competing for future world titles.

Andy loved to beat Kelly

Because AI knew Kelly was the only one to challenge him on all playing fields. That’s the beauty in both their surfing—it can be from a 2 foot beachbreak in Japan to 25 foot for the Eddie in Hawaii and they surf it all perfectly. Somewhere in the perfectly pleasant range today in SF, Kelly made all the right moves to snatch the last heat win needed for 11, after trailing most of the heat to Dan Ross. With 11 in the bag, Kelly becomes so far and away the greatest athlete to ever live it is almost laughable that he doesn’t receive the recognition deserving of his talent and dedication.

Andy gave his heart and Kelly gives his soul to the act of riding waves. To me, they exemplify the heart and soul of what surfing is, in or out of a contest jersey.

Click here to see photos of Slaters historic victory.
Read Lewis Samuel’s take on Kelly Slater’s 11th World Title

  • Mik

    You comments on the Andy / Kelly dynamics are revelatory. Obvious, but never before stated so accurately. Thank you Shea. And thank you Ke11y, for being who you are.

  • Mik

    BTW: The prayer circle photo is amazing.

  • Paul “grover” Cleveland

    The level of surfing is where it is because of guys like Andy and Kelly. The pack is so close on their heels, however, I don’t see anyone taking it away from Kelly. Andy was the one guy that could cast a doubt on Kelly’s achievement. What a great memorial for one of the best surfers to ever ride. Thank you for the great memories and the true spirit of competition. If you want it from Kelly , you better bring something bigger than life. That’s the only thing that stopped Andy. RIP Andy , your work here will never be done, but you set the bar high enough here for us to enjoy them all trying.ALOHA KE AKUA to your family.

  • Andy

    Man the end of the video is heart wrenching no matter how many times ive seen it. God bless surfing and rest in peace Andy. AI Forever.

  • J English

    It seems like a hundred years ago as I watched Kelly slip into an ESA contest jersey and do some amazing surfing as a menehune. The Muse song in the tribute video to Andy Irons says it all “do not waste your time or time will waste you”. Kelly and Andy both have shown the world what can be done with time well spent. Well written Shay.

  • taylor paul

    Well put, Shea.

  • Danyak

    Cannot even begin to imagine the loss Bruce feels. What a gem. Keep rippin AI…

  • negblanc

    Congratulations to Kelly Slater 11th championship win what a time and day in memory of one of the greatest surfer Andy Irons anniversary 1978-2010 we miss you now you surf with God Andy you stoke man.

  • tony carson big island

    Lets not forget the 12 year old gremmie, riding his bike, with his short board to the beach, in the pre-dawn light, for the stoke of a dawn patrol session, or the guy who’s been surfing for 4 decades, or more, and is still stoked to be catching waves, whether on a short board or on log now, with no fans or fanfare, these guys, are just as much, the heart and soul of surfing today, maybe even more.

  • tony (ty) carson big island

    The more I thought about this, the more convinced I became, that the thousands of stoked gremmies going for a dawn patrol session or afternoon surf, and the thousands of older cats, who have been surfing for 10, 20 30 40, years or more, and are still stoked to be catching waves, all of these guys, with no thoughts of glory or cash, no groupies, fans or fanfare, just surfing for the stoke of it, these kids and guys, I believe, are the real heart and soul of surfing today.