The surfer who took Volcom to the stars, who beat Kelly to win the Pipe Masters, is back in the game…
Bruce Irons, the 35-year-old surfer from Halanalei, Kauai, younger bro of Andy, and once the hottest property in surfing, is kinda back!
After half-a-dozen years of wandering the metaphorical universe (the death of Andy in 2010 ain’t something he was ever going to be able to just shrug off), Bruce has a new manager and his girlfriend, US model Hailee Wade, has entered him into eight events on the qualifying series, beginning at the Burton Auto Pro at Newcastle, Australia, in a week.
“My new manager has got me back in the fucking swing of things,” says Bruce. “Shit’s starting to go my way. Although (at Pipe) I fucking blew it, brah… I got good waves but, fuck, I was getting on a roll and I blew it so fucking hard. I was going to win that contest.”
With the passage of time, it’s easy to forget how good Bruce was, is. If you really want to get into it, Bruce was the best freesurfer in the world for a couple of years (2004, 2005) before Dane Reynolds stepped out of Ventura. Even when Andy was winning world titles, Pipe Masters titles, Triple Crowns and grinding Kelly Slater, it was his slightly younger brother that was bringing sexy to surfing.
In 2001, before he was even in the tour, Bruce beat Kelly Slater to win the Pipe Masters.
And in, 2004, without even breaking a sweat (Bruce don’t like to sweat), he qualified for the tour.
And that year he beat Kelly Slater in the semis of the Quiksilver event in France before losing to his brother in the final. Four months later, he won the Eddie Aikau event in 30-foot waves at Waimea.
In 2008, Bruce won the Rip Curl Search Pro in Bali, requalified, but knocked his CT spot back to… freesurf again.
“I’ve just kind of been stuck in this rut,” said Bruce at the time. “Same places, same schedule. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t like surfing heats. When it’s not good, I don’t have the motivation. And then I was really worried all along that if I fell off tour, Volcom would drop me. I wasn’t communicating with them about that and I was struggling on tour. I didn’t like the way I was surfing. I wasn’t happy with it at all. So, I talked to Volcom and basically said I wasn’t happy on tour. And I asked them what they thought of me not doing it. They said they’d be stoked if I wasn’t on it. They said they could see my struggle on tour. That I tried it and it wasn’t my thing. I prefer to go back to how I started my whole surfing trip which is to go on surf trips and make videos. That’s where I’m most happy.”
Despite his “lifetime” deal with Volcom, Bruce split with ’em four years after and signed with Fox.
Bruce don’t have a whole lot else on the boil at the moment so why not take one last swing at the tour? He’s not saying that he’s “trying to qualify” ’cause that ain’t Bruce’s style. But he sure would like to taste a little champagne.
“I definitely want to win something,’ he says. “Oh fuck yeah.”
Bruce is also collecting footage for an upcoming film.