Andy Irons: he is all around us

Andy Irons passed away on the 2nd November. The news saddened the world of surfing and everyone is still trying to cope with the loss of a surfing legend.

After all the memorials and tributes to Andy, the Irons family has released a special statement thanking everyone from Australia to Europe, from Indonesia to South Africa:

Following a beautiful memorial service on November 14th, 2010 at Andy’s beloved Hanalei Bay, the Irons family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has reached out to them from the far corners of the planet.

"Andy's passing was met with the most overwhelming and powerful wave of love and support," said Andy's mother Danielle, adding that the family could not have imagined the range of Andy's impact and influence on people around the world.

"The friendship and concern that has poured in from everywhere has been unimaginable," says Andy's father, Phil, "and we are deeply, deeply grateful. Words are beyond us." Danielle adds, "It's like one big giant hug, arms around you, of comfort."

The entire family wants to thank their friends at Billabong, who were there for the family from the first moment. "Then they orchestrated such a soulful, loving day for the community and for Andy. Andy would have loved it! It was an extraordinary memorial," said Danielle.

The Irons family too wants to recognize the special community of Hanalei, where Andy and his brother Bruce were born and raised on the North Shore, and thank them for extending the aloha spirit in coming together, opening their arms and sharing their generosity "with us and everybody", and in continuing to support the Irons family. "We are still feeling the community's sorrow so deeply. It helps to go through this together," said Andy's father, Phil.

The family would also like to thank the ASP Medical Team for their role at the ASP-sanctioned event at Puerto Rico and want to convey their appreciation to the ASP-approved Rip Curl Pro Search Doctors who treated Andy there. They were professional and did everything they could to take care of Andy’s health, says Danielle, on behalf of the family. "I know how stubborn Andy can be, and once he makes up his mind there's no changing it. He was set on coming home."

Joel Parkinson: laying for a nap

When Joel Parkinson decides to fire up the beach, the show is like an action movie.

The Australian surfer decided to play his cards and confirmed the highest two-wave total score of the event to date: 19.87 out of a possible 20 points. The Reef Hawaiian Pro 2010 is just kicking off, but the spectators are already stoked.

"I couldn't ask for a better place to come back after a long injury," said Parkinson. "I didn't hear till midway through the heat that I got a 10, and I was like, 'I got a 10?' I thought they might have misprinted the zero or something.

Parkinson believes he is capable to defend the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, but he will try it heat by heat.

Despite the outstanding performance shown by Parko, there were other standouts: Raoni Monteiro (Brazil), Granger Larsen (Hawaii), Jay Quinn (NZ), Yadin Nichol (AUS) and Evan Valiere (Hawaii) did pretty good.

The first stop of the 28th annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing runs through November 23 at Haleiwa.

Stephanie Gilmore: nobody stops here from winning

Australian Stephanie Gilmore, the 4-time ASP world champion of surfing, eclipsed the field to win the Cholo's Hawaiian Pro today - the first leg of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. With the world title locked away, Steph's victory here puts her in good stead to gun for a third Vans Triple Crown title to round out the year. Gilmore, 22, earned $4,500 for today's win.

Surfing in double-overhead waves, Gilmore was untouchable in every round with near-perfect scores and flawless, critical maneuvers. Runner-up was rookie Australian Tyler Wright, 16, from Lennox Head, who threw down some of the most futuristic maneuvers women's surfing has ever seen, but failed to match Gilmore's well-rounded performance.

Third was Alana Blanchard (Hawaii), and Jacqueline Silva (Brazil) was fourth. Today's results saw Wright, Blanchard and Silva lock in their berths on next year's elite ASP World Tour.

"I'd love to at some point in my career have a win at every destination," said Gilmore. "That would be awesome and being in the lead for the Triple Crown is a good feeling.

"Surfing Haleiwa is more about long drawn-out turns and reading the wave really well. Just picking those steeper spots, especially on this deep bank ... to get the most critical turn in. I just enjoy right-handers of any kind, and I felt comfortable out there."

Tyler Wright was full of praise for Gilmore: "It was really fun and good waves were coming through. I caught a couple, but Steph blew me out of the water."

"She was absolutely ripping. She's been ripping all year and it's not really intimidating. I look at it from a different perspective as a challenge and I think it's super exciting. It's you out there with the best in the world so why shouldn't you be excited?"

The next stop for the ladies is Sunset Beach, stage 2 of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, Nov. 24 through Dec. 6. The third and final event, open to the top 4 Vans Triple Crown contenders only, is the Vans Duel for the Jewel at Pipeline, December 8-20.