IRONS GOES BACK-TO-BACK
Irons Defeats Egan For Consecutive Wins
- Billabong Pro Teahupoo (May 7-18) www.billabongpro.com
- Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
- 2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Teahupoo, Tahiti (Tuesday, May 14) Current ASP ratings leader Andy Irons(Haw) today greatly extended his position by defeating Luke Egan (Aus) towin The 2002 Billabong Pro Teahupoo. In doing so, he won his secondconsecutive World Championship Tournament (WCT) and collected anotherUS$30,000 in prizemoney.
Surf was 3-5ft (1-1.5m) most the day, with clean barrels on offer, butunfortunately the decreasing swell led to more inconsistent heats toward thebusiness end.
Irons, long considered one of the best at Teahupoo’s notorious reef break,today cemented his reputation with the title he wanted most. Having won aWorld Qualifying Series (WQS) event here in 1997, and then the Trialsdivision in 2000, the 23 year old charged all week, posting the highestoverall total during his semifinal match for 26.6-points.
Against Egan in the 40-minute final the Hawaiian appeared to have done hisdash too soon, falling the first five attempts as his opponent took control.Just after halfway, however, he secured the best score for a 9.0, and thentook the lead with another good ride near the end. The Australian regainedthe top spot during the closing seconds, but Irons was on the next, betterwave, and secured a 7.25 for victory.
“Oh my gosh,” began an overwhelmed Irons, still surrounded by friends andmedia in the water. “Two in a row, double whammy. Now I feel stupid Istarted counting myself out (during the final). ‘Louie’ started off with areally good score and came back at the end with a late drop. He’s just sucha fierce competitor. I was waiting for him to just nail it, but there wereno waves. I can’t believe. It’s like a dream right now.
“Thank Hedgey,” he yelled to vocal Egan supporter and fellow contestantNathan Hedge, holding up his celebratory Hinano beers. “They were allpumping ‘Louie’ up and I was getting frustrated. Then that wave came to meand I was lucky to be spat out of the barrel. Right ’til the end… he gotthe score he needed, but I was lucky to get the one behind him. I knew itwas close.
“That’s still so far down the line,” he added, of the world title. “I justwanted a Teahupoo title more than anything. I’ve won here as a ‘grom’ whenit was a WQS, but ‘CT’s are the big league, so to actually have one here isincredible.”
Afterward the interviews, he rode to shore on the back of a Jet Ski with hisgirlfriend, and Billabong Pro Teahupoo women’s champion Keala Kennelly, alsofrom the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.
Egan, 32, looked to set to claim his third WCT from the outset with a 7.75,but slowly watched his lead dissolve. Needing a 5.91 during the lastminutes, he used priority on the first wave of the final set to post a 6.0,but after Irons’ following ride, he required another 8.16-points.Nonetheless, the result is his best in two years and moved him into fourthposition on the current ratings.
“It was the only mistake I made all heat and it cost me the final,” reasonedEgan, of the last exchange. “I still bettered my score, but if I hadn’t goneI would have had priority and got that last wave and then it would have beenon. Credit to him, though. He’s probably been the best surfer all event, soit’s well deserved. Two in a row now, he’s looking pretty good for a worldtitle.
“I had four radical games of chess and just lost my last one in the lastcouple of seconds,” he explained, of tactics throughout the day. “I’m happywith second. It’s the best I’ve done in a while and we’re off to Fiji (forthe next WCT), where I’ve won before.”
Equal third in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo were Trent Munro (Aus) and KalaniRobb (Haw). Munro, 23, was stopped by Irons in a fairly one-sided heat,requiring 13.86-points when it concluded.
“I guess I was out of rhythm and he was in,” conceded Munro. “I couldn’t doanything but sit and wait for a wave that didn’t come. That’s just the wayit goes in this game. I’m happy, as it’s a good result. I would have likedto make the final, but there’s always next time.”
Robb, 25, also suffered a wave starved clash against Egan. Despite makinglate charges in most of his heats, he was unable to do likewise during thesemifinal.
“In the heat before, and all day there had been tons of waves comingthough,” said Robb. “I was confident, but you can’t do anything without thewaves. I would have loved to be in the final with Andy.
“It’s only the beginning,” he continued, of this year’s season. “I’ve justbeen really stoked watching Andy. He’s doing really well and has beenpushing me a lot. Hopefully I get some waves in Fiji next week.”
Finishing equal fifth today were Peterson Rosa (Brz), Shea Lopez (USA),Damien Hobgood (USA) and his brother, reigning world champion CJ Hobgood.
Rosa, 27, flew the Brazilian flag furthest in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo,but was stopped by Munro in the first quarterfinal needing 9.51-points.
“I found some barrels but I couldn’t make it out,” said Rosa. “It’s a greatresult for me and I’ll keep trying to do well in the next contest.”
Lopez, 28, opened his quarterfinal against Irons with a great 9.25 score,but had to sit and listen as the Hawaiian then picked off a near-perfect 9.8and ultimately advanced.
“Nobody would have made that 9.8,” said Lopez, of his opponents top score.”That’s the Andy factor out here.”
CJ, who began his quarterfinal against Robb with a 9.0, then had hissurfboard leash stuck on the back of the Jet Ski after being assisted backinto the lineup. The tangle up cost him dearly, as his opponent was paddlingnearby and was ultimately awarded priority by the ASP head judge for thenext wave, where he secured his best score for an 8.8. While seven minutesremained, he was unable to find the 7.76-points he then required.
“There was a judgment call that didn’t go my way with the Jet Skis,”explained Hobgood. “I was the last person to catch a wave, and the first onthe ski. Kalani decided not to use the ski, and we ended up out there at thesame time. My leash got stuck on the ski, but they gave priority to him. Hegot the next wave and scored an 8.8 and then I lost the heat.
“Kalani surfed a great heat,” he continued. “He came back and beat me, so hedeserves it. It’s hard to take though, as I feel like human error maybe costme doing better in the contest. I’ll just have to try harder in Tavarua.Andy’s getting a bigger lead and we want to catch him.”
Defending Billabong Pro Teahupoo champion Cory Lopez (USA) was eliminatedfirst heat today, when Egan posted a 9.0 and then held off a late chargefrom the Floridian.
Official results of the 2002 Billabong Pro Teahupoo
- 1st Andy Irons (Haw) 22.65 – US$30,000
- 2nd Luke Egan (Aus) 20.5 – US$16,000
Semifinals (defeated finish =3rd; receive US$10,000)
- SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 26.6 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 17.0
- SF2: Luke Egan (Aus) 19.75 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 13.15
Quarterfinals (defeated finish =5th; receive US$8,000)
- QF1: Trent Munro (Aus) 20.25 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.65
- QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 23.75 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 19.65
- QF3: Luke Egan (Aus) 20.1 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.65
- QF4: Kalani Robb (Haw) 23.65 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 23.3