SOMEWHERE, Porta Del Sol/Puerto Rico (Wednesday, November 3, 2010) - The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), Rip Curl and surfers unanimously decided to cancel competition at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico today out of respect for yesterday's unexpected passing of surfing icon and current ASP World Tour competitor Andy Irons (HAW), 32.
Irons, a three-time ASP World Champion, withdrew from competition citing illness and was en route back home to Kauai, Hawaii yesterday when he passed away. The loss of one of professional surfing's greatest icons has sent shockwaves through the international sporting community.
A paddle out memorial service was held on-site in Porta Del Sol, attended by the world's best surfers and hundreds of admirers.
Reactions from those in attendance:
Kelly Slater (USA), 38, nine-time ASP World Champion:
"We had a nice paddle out for Andy,' Slater said. "It was a huge a group of people that got together - a couple hundred people paddled out. Obviously everyone is very somber and it's just devastating news for everyone."
"Everyone had their own connection with Andy on so many different levels," Slater said. "He was a classic guy. Although he and I butted heads a lot a few years ago, I have so many good memories of Andy and we have become pretty good friends since. Generally, we just sit around and don't even talk about surfing. We just have dinner and talk."
"We're just baffled that he's gone."
"It was nice for everyone to be together to have a chance to talk about him, about our memories: a little laugh, a little cry," Slater said. "We just want to send some positive thoughts out to his family - to his wife, to his brother, and to his child that is coming next month. We're all just thinking about that.
"You know, Andy was a pretty dynamic guy," Slater said. "He could be fierce in the water, the nicest guy on land - anything in-between. There were just so many sides to Andy. I'm going to have a million different memories of AI."
"A few weeks ago I had a friend going over to Kauai to see Andy, and I said send him a message: When Andy surfs angry he smashes people and tell him to come to PR angry, focus that energy and use it," Slater said. "So my friend called him and said he told AI the message and AI said he's ready and I was so looking forward to see him surf this week. Just to see him."
"There aren't words to describe," Slater said. "Unfortunately I've been through this with friends. There's nothing that can make it better. You just have to feel it and process all those memories."
"Andy was an absolutely gifted individual," Slater said. "I'm lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I'm made of because of Andy. We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved. I'm so sad."
"My thoughts are with Bruce and Lyndie and their parents and all of his many friends around the world," Slater said. "It's a huge and far too premature loss for all of us. He was the most intense competitor I've ever known and one of the most sensitive people. He had so much life left in him and it hurts to think about. We look forward to his memory living on with our memories of him and his child on the way. There are a lot of uncles awaiting his arrival. I really miss Andy. He had a really good heart."
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion:
"It's a really sad day and I think everyone is still in shock," Gilmore said. "It's crazy how the world works in mysterious ways. Luckily we're all here together.
All the girls were down here. We all did the paddle out and to remember Andy."
"We didn't see the guys that often on Tour, but Andy in particular is one of the most beautiful human-beings," Gilmore said. "Such an incredible competitor, but always so gentle and so kind. Always gave you the time of day. No matter where you were or how busy he was, he'd stop and say hi and ask how you were going. He's going to be really really missed by everyone."
"I think everyone admires him so much and he'll never be forgotten."
Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion:
"It was good having the paddle-out, getting everyone together," Fanning said. "We're a surfing family. We all look out for each other. Just for us to paddle out and show our respects to Andy, to his family, to all his friends on Kauai and Hawaii - it's good. We are all hurting right now and we're just wanting to pay our respects."
"Andy was incredible," Fanning said. "I think he was a person that always wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn't try to impress anyone. He was just all about what he wanted to do. He was an amazing competitor; he was an amazing friend. And also, he was a brother. I haven't just lost a friend, I've lost my brother here. It's hard to take."
C.J. Hobgood (USA), 31, current ASP World No. 14:
"All the surfers are here today and we were able to paddle out together," Hobgood said. "Imagine taking all of the emotion in your body and putting it into one pot; it was so crazy out there. One second I just felt so mad, and then the next second I was just so happy."
"The biggest thing was that the whole [WT] family was together and we were able to paddle out as one and show our love for another brother," Hobgood said. "There are no words to say how we all feel, but in time there will be."
"I think that the biggest thing is that we're thankful for so much," Hobgood said. "I'm thankful to be a surfer because we are family and I'm thankful to be a part of Andy's family. I've traveled with him since I was 12 years old. Just the person that he was, it made me a better person. It made everyone around him a better person."
"I'm thankful for so many great, wonderful years," Hobgood said. "I think every surfer here today is just thankful that they could be here for Andy and show their respect for him, because we all understand that you can't ever know when your time is up. So it's comforting to know that all the other surfers would be there for you."
Following the service, ASP, Rip Curl and the surfers opted to postpone the recommencement of the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico until Friday, November 5, 2010.
"Out of respect for the passing of Andy Irons yesterday, the ASP, event organizers and the surfers have all decided to postpone the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico until Friday," Renato Hickel, ASP World Tour Manager, said. "This is a terrible loss for the ASP family and one we'll be working through for many years to come. We need time to grieve and we will return on Friday."
"We called an official lay day today in memory of Andy Irons and also to give the ASP professional surfers the space they needed to clear their heads, get their arms around each other and just take it all in," Neil Ridgway, Rip Curl Global Marketing & Advertising Chairman, said. "On the event side, we feel that the best thing to do is to continue to prepare to run the Rip Curl Pro Search the best we can.We want to give these guys the type of event environment that they're used to, because at some stage we believe that they will want to return to what they know best and that is pro surfing and that is winning heats and this time in honour of Andy Irons."
Event organizers will reconvene Friday morning at 7am for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, up against rookie Dusty Payne (HAW), 21.
Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico will be available via live.ripcurl.com
The Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico will be televised LIVE in Australia on FUEL TV. For more information, check out www.foxsports.com.au/fueltv
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1:Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (USA)
Heat 2:C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 3:Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 4:Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 5:Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 6:Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Dylan Graves (PRI)
Heat 7:Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 8:Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 9:Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 10:Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Dan Ross (AUS)
Heat 11:Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 12:Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)