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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Kaua'i surfer Irons captures world title

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Joel Parkinson had the spectacular day.

Kaua'i's Andy Irons gets a victory parade after becoming the third male from Hawai'i to win pro surfing's world title.

Pierre Tostee • © ASP Tostee

Andy Irons had the spectacular year.

They ended up sharing the glory on the final day of the Rip Curl Cup yesterday at Sunset Beach.

Australia's Parkinson won the Rip Curl Cup, which was completed in picturesque wave faces of 10 to 20 feet.

Kaua'i's Irons was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but clinched the 2002 world championship.

"I never dreamed that I would win in Hawai'i," Parkinson said. "My goal was to stand up on the podium (as one of the finalists). I didn't care what place I got in the final."

His surfing left little doubt.

Three rounds were completed yesterday — quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. Parkinson recorded the highest score of each round.

"I thought I got lucky the first heat today, getting a couple of nines, so I figured I'd probably lose the next one," said Parkinson, 21. "Then the same thing happened again (in the semifinals) and I was in the final."

Lucky or not, he did it in the final, too. On his best ride, he carved off the top of a 15-foot wave face, maneuvered his way down, then pulled into the barreling section and made it out. The judges rewarded him with a score of 9.5 to give him a lead he would not relinquish.

Parkinson finished with a two-wave score of 17.5 (out of 20) in the final. He earned $30,000 for the victory and climbed to No. 3 on the World Championship Tour rankings.

Andy Irons is just the third male from Hawai‘i to win a world surfing championship.

Bernie Baker • Special to The Advertiser

Fellow Australians Lee Winkler (11.95) and Nathan Webster (9.75) placed second and third, respectively, although neither came close to Parkinson's scores.

Shane Dorian of Kailua, Kona, made the final and placed fourth — the best showing by a Hawai'i competitor. He caught just two waves during the 35-minute final.

"I wanted to wait for the better ones, but things didn't go my way," Dorian said. "The waves were really good, I just didn't get any of the good ones."

The Rip Curl Cup was the second jewel in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Parkinson moved into the lead for the Triple Crown title, which is awarded to the best overall performer in the three contests.

Sunny Garcia, the winner of the opening contest, the Vans Hawaiian Pro, is in second.

Irons overshadowed all of that yesterday, becoming just the third male from Hawai'i to win professional surfing's world title. Garcia (2000) and Derek Ho (1993) were the others.

"It's a 100 percent relief," said Irons, 24. "I admit, I was completely nervous. I had all these cameras following me around all morning. It was hard to keep my focus."

It showed in the quarterfinals, as Irons was eliminated because of a self-inflicted interference penalty. Trailing late in the heat, he paddled in the way of Winkler, and was assessed a crucial one-wave penalty (while the other surfers were scored on two waves, Irons was scored on one).

"I got too aggressive," he said. "It was the right call (by the judges). It was my mistake, but I had to be that way. I was behind and I didn't want (Winkler) to get that wave."

After that, it was a matter of waiting.

Irons has led the World Championship Tour standings virtually all year, and entered the Rip Curl Cup with a 986-point lead on Luke Egan of Australia. Egan needed to advance to the final just to have a chance at catching Irons.

It would not happen. Egan was also eliminated in his quarterfinal heat, giving Irons the world title.

"The odds were really stacked against me, so I don't feel too bad," Egan said. "Andy could have won it a couple days ago, but I held him off for a little while. It was just a matter of time, I suppose, but it was still fun to give him a little bit of a run."

Once Egan's heat concluded, Irons put on a custom-made basketball jersey that had KAUA'I on the front, and IRONS on the back above the No. 1. His friends — the "Kaua'i Boys" — then carried him on their shoulders to the victory stand.

"Kaua'i is my home; always will be," said Irons, who was born and raised in Hanalei, and now owns his own home there. "That's where I built the foundation for this."

His parents, Phil and Danielle, flew in from Kaua'i yesterday morning to witness the crowning of the new surfing champ.

"All those years, everything he put up with, and gave up for this ... it's all worth it," Phil said. "This is huge, not just for us, but for Kaua'i."

Next week's Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters is the final event of the 2002 world tour, but Irons has an insurmountable lead. The Pipeline Masters will also serve as the final event of the Triple Crown series.

The Turtle Bay Resort Women's Pro did not run yesterday, but could start today at Turtle Bay, conditions permitting. For status of the contest, call 596-7873.

Rip Curl Cup

1, Joel Parkinson (Australia), $30,000. 2, Lee Winkler (Australia), $16,000. 3, Nathan Webster (Australia), $11,000. 4, Shane Dorian (Hawai'i), $9,000. 5 (tie), Peterson Rosa (Brazil) and Jake Paterson (Australia), $8,500. 7 (tie), Neco Padaratz (Brazil) and Luke Hitchings (Australia), $7,500. 9 (tie), Richard Lovett (Australia), Andy Irons (Hawai'i), Luke Egan (Australia) and Mark Occhilupo (Australia), $5,500. 13 (tie), Mick Fanning (Australia), Shane Powell (Australia), Taylor Knox (California) and Mick Campbell (Australia), $4,500.

World Championship Tour

Standings through 11 of 12 events

1, Andy Irons (Hawai'i), 7,382 points (clinched 2002 title). 2, Luke Egan (Australia), 6,396. 3, Joel Parkinson (Australia), 6,356. 4, Taj Burrow (Australia), 5,932. 5, Michael Lowe (Australia), 5,744. 6, Mick Fanning (Australia), 5,620. 7, Mark Occhilupo (Australia), 5,564. 8, Kieren Perrow (Australia), 5,550. 9, Daniel Wills (Australia), 5,362. 10, Kalani Robb (Hawai'i), 5,346. Also: 23, Sunny Garcia (Hawai'i), 4,520. 27, Shane Dorian (Hawai'i), 4,332.