Andy Irons personal “Sunset Special” surfboard by Eric Arakawa (2009)
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Andy Irons personal surfboard 6’8 “Sunset Special” thruster. Shaped by Eric Arakawa for the late Andy Irons (1978-2010). Made for the waves at world famous Sunset Beach, a site of the annual Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore. Andy Irons was the 3x consecutive ASP World Champion of Surfing in 2002, 2003, 2004 and arguably one of the greatest surfers to ever live.
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History of Andy Iron’s “The People’s Champion”
Andy Irons was one of the most honored, yet most tragic figures in the surfing world. His character and surfing style out shined everyone but privately, he was struggling with mental illness and drug abuse. The individuals around him describe him as a “wild power surfer with a fearless, raw talent.”
Andy Irons was born on July 24, 1978, in Lihue, Hawaii. The son of a carpenter-surfer from California. His father once won a surfing contest and earned a trip to Hawaii, never returning back to the mainland. He quickly infected his son with a passion for surfing. Andy started catching his first waves when he was only 8 years old. While learning to surf with his brother Bruce, one of the local surfing brands spotted his talent. He was soon flown to Oahu, Hawaii to develop his skills competing on breaks along the North Shore. During the first competition he took part in, he lost to a girl and dropped out of competing for a whole year. Andy bounced back winning both the junior and men’s division of the 1996 National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) championships. His professional career started quickly after winning the HIC Pipeline Pro in solid 12 foot Hawaiian surf. Andy was always close to his roots, speaking highly of his family, friends, and wife. Along with his brother, Bruce, he put on “The Pines Trees Classic” contest for all the children on Kauai. This event has turned into one of the most famous and well-respected non-profit events in the surf industry. Andy was known for being very competitive and had many rivals, most famous of them being Kelly Slater. Their rivalry became a real deal in 2003, as both surfers fought against each other for the ASP world title. In that same year, Andy had beaten Kelly in the final of the Pipeline Masters, making it for many, the very best heat in the history of surfing.
Despite his young age, he was more successful than any of the experienced surfers of the time. His accomplishments include winning three consecutive ASP World Tour titles from 2002 to 2004, conquering 20 Championship Tour (CT) events (including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times from 2002-2006), and claiming four Pipeline Masters titles. He is the only surfer to have won a title at every venue on the Association of Surfing Professionals (now known as World Surf League) calendar. During his life, he made a successful partnership with the brand Billabong, that continues to support his son through the Andy Irons Forever clothing collection. He was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in California in 2008. In addition to that, the Governor of Hawaii declared February 13th “Andy Irons Day”. Andy Irons struggled with severe opioid addiction and mental illness- depression and bipolar disorder. He had been abusing drugs and was known to struggle with overcoming challenges in his daily life. Sadly, his illness got the best of him. Andy Irons was found unresponsive in a hotel room at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on November 2, 2010, after missing a connecting flight to Kauai. He was 32 years old. The autopsy revealed that he passed away due to a combination of drugs and a heart attack. At this time his wife, Lyndie Irons, was seven months pregnant with the couple’s first child. Andy never got to meet his son, Axel. Andy Irons will forever be remembered for his unrivaled style of power surfing and for being one of the best tube riders of all time. His life, achievements and reality have been immortalized in a documentary “Andy Irons: Kissed by God”. The Andy Irons Foundation celebrates Andy’s life and legacy by providing programs for young people struggling with mental illness, and drug abuse.