Pipeline, Hawaii – It all came down to the last three minutes of the year – Kauai’s Andy Irons dug deep to turn the final of the Xbox Pipeline Masters into his ultimate day of victory.
Now there’s no doubt – this is the year of Andy Irons.
Having claimed the world championship title two weeks ago, Irons won the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – one of surfing’s most coveted crowns, and to settle a score with younger brother Bruce, who was the defending champion at Pipeline. He did both, winning $30,000 for the Xbox Pipeline Masters, $7,500 and a Ford Ranger FX4 truck for the Series win. Irons became the third surfer in history to win the world title, the Pipe Masters and the Vans Triple Crown in one winter.
The 35-minute final was held in solid six-foot waves predominately at Backdoor – the right-handers. For the first half it was looking as if 12-year ASP World Tour veteran and renowned Pipe charger Shane Dorian (Haw) might finally have his moment of glory on home sand. A finalist at Pipe on previous occasion, 30-year-old Dorian had a strong support crew pushing him for a win. He threw himself into the Pipeline, notching up a couple of great tube rides and successfully pulling off maneuvers usually reserved for more docile waves.
But it all unraveled in a matter of seconds when, with three minutes to go, Dorian took the first wave of the biggest set of the final, pulled in and got tubed, only to exit and see Irons behind him in a bigger, cleaner, deeper barrel. As Irons’ arms flew skyward in jubilation, Dorian’s hopes sank like a rock. Not another wave would be ridden in the final and Irons would win his fourth WCT event of the year and the Vans Triple Crown title.
He had to win this event to take the Triple Crown title from Australian Joel Parkinson.
“I couldn’t have kept my arms down if they were dead-bolted. It was just pure emotion,” said Irons.
“I wouldn’t have been able to write a finish this perfect. My friends are so stoked and as far as I’m concerned, they won too, and my family. They won with me and have been so supportive, psyching me up. It’s been unreal.
“The whole Triple Crown has just been amazing. We’ve had such good waves this winter and while it wasn’t incredible Pipeline today, it was good Backdoor and I love it there, so it worked out well for me.
“He’s been holding that Pipe Master in my face for about a year now,” he added of his brother Bruce’s 2001 victory. “It’s good to have one now and to be carried off the beach by your buddies is always incredible. He can’t say he’s done anything I haven’t yet, so now it’s just his turn to get on the tour.”
Dorian never thought the final was his. “I actually had no idea about the scores, but I thought Andy was in the lead the whole time. I went on a bad wave toward the end and there was a sick one right behind it and of course Andy was on it. That’s all it took and he surfed well. He did great all year, so I’m stoked for him.
Kelly Slater (USA) placed third and Mick Fanning was fourth.