Attacking Sunset Beach was one of AI’s favourite pastimes. Attacking Kelly Slater was another. Combine the two and you got a man who needs no further motivation to go absolutely beserk! (Merkel/A-frame)

Andy Irons: Open Door

Magic moments at Sunset Beach

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In anticipation of the Australian premieres of Andy Irons: Kissed By God, we’re taking a look back at some of the Andy stories that have stuck with us. Here, Jake Paterson gives the back story of a classic Andy Irons quote and moment.

The final day of the 2003 Sunset Cup was maybe the best Sunset I have ever surfed. It was eight-to-ten feet and pretty much perfect, northwest swell, light trade winds with some huge barrels on the inside bowl.

I arrived early in the morning, pulled up in the car park and the first thing I see is Andy standing tall in a crazy barrel. I was freaking out over how good it was but I didn’t go for a free surf. It was hard not to paddle out, but we were only up to round three and I knew if I was to make the final that day I’d have to surf four times, so I wanted to keep my energy levels up.

The World Cup was a CT back then, the second last event of the year, and Kelly had a big lead on Andy going into Hawaii. A good result for Kelly at Sunset could have sealed him the World Title then and there. But it didn’t work out that way.

To cut a long story short, Kalani Robb and I knocked out Kelly in the round before the quarters. Andy was in the very next heat which meant he was in the water at the same time. He loved it. He took the opportunity to get in his head. He paddled over as Kelly was coming in and yelled at him, “You just left the door wide open, Bra!”

He knew then that he had the chance to make up a lot of ground on Kelly ahead of Pipe, plus it was Sunset where he was always a standout surfer. He was ripping and went onto make the final along with Shane Dorian, Taj Burrow and myself.

The waves were still incredible for the final, pumping A-frames with big throaty barrels on the inside. Sunset’s a demanding wave and at eight-to-ten feet it takes a lot out of you. We were all standing on the water’s edge about to paddle out when Shane said he was cramping up, he’d gone for a free surf before the contest. Andy had as well and he admitted he was getting few cramps too. I was glad I’d decided not to go for that extra surf because I was feeling pretty good.

I sat further outside during that final, looking for some bigger ones with a nice open face, I dug in and ended up getting some really good waves. I loved it. But Andy, Andy rode one perfect wave in the final that was awesome. Lucky for me the scale was out of ten because that wave was a 20! It was nothing short of amazing, he pulled into two crazy barrels and laid down a huge full-rail high-speed hack. Somehow I ended up winning with two strong waves while Andy couldn’t back up his ten, he was still needing an eight or something at the end.

With Kelly bombing out early, Andy was breathing down his neck going into the final event at Pipe which turned out to be one of the heaviest World Title showdowns at Pipe ever. Of course, Andy ended up winning Pipe, winning the Triple Crown, and winning the World Title.

Andy went on to win Sunset the next year, 2004, and I won again in 2005. Andy second again then. The waves were different that year, still really good but only five-to-six foot for the final. We both had a good little run going on out there at Sunset.

To me, Andy was the best surfer out there. Hands down. Just the way he toyed with the wave, Sunset, a wave that is notoriously impossible to toy with. I loved our battles in the surf, against Andy you knew you had to step it up and be on your game. He sure did bring the very best out of my surfing. – Jake Paterson

The highly anticipated documentary film that will finally tell the heartbreaking story of the great Andy Irons – Andy Irons: Kissed By God — is premiering in Australia soon with four special event screenings. You can find further details on Surfing World’s event page here.

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