Showdown and a Date in Court -- 12/13/03

Andy Irons, enroute to another World Championship

Date: December 13, 2003
Time: 0615 -- 0815; 1230-1400
Spot(s): Pipeline; DHLH
Conditions: Offshore and pre-contest lineup madness; onshore and oeftnly one other guy
Swell: Even further diminishing NNW; decent tradewind swell
Surf: 3-5' Haw'n; 2-3'+ Haw'n

Words: Headed out real early in hopes of getting some waves before the contest. Surf didn't look all that big or good, but I went out anyway.

My session went pretty poorly. My first wave in the semi-darkness was a fun left in the hook. Got a decent one at Backdoor too, which I worked through several sections all the way to the shorebreak. No cavernous tubes to be had for me, but it was still way fun.

After the water patrol chased me out of the water, I became part of the paparazzi and shot a few heats of the first round. I probably had the only manual focus camera on the beach (talk about lens envy).

The announcers were hyping "the Showdown," where Andy Irons and Kelly Slater were battling it out for the ASP world championship. Their first heats were pretty impressive. Although I've seen them surf before, I was still blown away by their talent. Both had a certain flair and exceptional skill, but what caught my eye was how well these two finished a wave. Very stylish and controlled radicalness.

I eventually bailed the scene to hook up with another online friend. This time, alt.surfing's Gamivia Duke (aka The Supreme Court) was in town. Rather than deal with the deteriorating North Shore conditions, we decided to meet up at Diamond Head for a tradewind surf.

As expected, conditions were less than stellar. The winds were firm for several days, bringing in a decent, short-period windswell. After dispensing with the niceties of introduction, we got down to the business at hand.

There were quite a few people in the water, but none at DHLH-proper. The reason was probably because of the challenging conditions out there--the swell and current were quite relentless, making the paddle very challenging. G-Duke's conditioning in Ocean Beach (San Fran) served him well as he easily handled the conditions and quickly got into the rhythm.

As for me, I started off strong on my shortboard, catching some really fun ones. But as the session progressed, I really faded, having spent all my energy. The ending became a comical series of wipeouts from not stroking into waves with commitment. Still, even that was fun.

We shared the lineup with one other surfer, actually an acquaintance of mine whom I used to compete against in the amateur bodyboarding ranks over a decade prior. He still ripped.

G-Duke and I have had a somewhat checkered relationship on the alt.surfing newsgroup, sparring with words at times. One thing I told him was that I used to take the dialog way too seriously. We had a laugh talking about it all though. In the end, we shared waves like lifelong bros--after six years or so of sparring on the Internet, we were bros.

After draining all my energy in the surf, we left for shore. I ended up crawling over the reef while G-Duke took the wide berth through the channel. G-Duke offered to take me out to Ocean Beach (San Fran) if I'm ever up there (looking forward to those ice cream headaches and hour-long paddle outs). In the meantime, its back to online surfing and banter.

P.S. Andy Irons completed the trifecta for the second year in a row. He again won the Pipeline Masters, Triple Crown of Surfing and ASP World Championship for the year. He won the showdown meeting up and beating Slater in the finals. Congrats!