Andy Irons House
…so this is how Hanalei Bay looks from the air. Y'got Julia's $30 mill crib here, the beachbreak Andy and Bruce grew up surfing (Pine Trees) in the middle and the AI Bomber a little further down the track. | Photo: Scott Valor

When Andy Irons Owned Hanalei Bay

Come inside The Champ's old house at 5494 Weke Road… 

The passage of time is a curious thing. Was it only four-and-a-half years ago that Andy Irons, the surfer who won three consecutive world titles (2002, 2003 and 2004) and then finished second for the next two years, disappeared?

And yet, over time, we move on. Images dull. Faces, once so familiar, so vivid, drift into impressionistic smudges.

Last week, I wrote about Julia Roberts selling her 30-mill crib at Hanalei Bay. And it reminded me of Andy Irons and the Hanalei Bay house he poured his entire fortune into. He was stretched. Even on a million-dollar salary it takes something to buy almost-beachfront on Kauai. And he was proud of it.

Andy Irons' house
AI’s old house at 5494 Weke Road, Hanalei Bay. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water,” Andy told me two weeks before he died. “It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

“I call it the Hanalei Bomber. It’s radical, it’s my dream,” he told me two weeks before he died. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water. It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

Andy’s widow had to sell the Bomber three years back. Taxes of $17,000 a year plus everything else. How can a single gal take care of that? It sold for $4.3 mill to a guy from California.

The real estate agent’s spiel was this: “Elegant Asian-inspired two story home on Kauai’s magnificent Hanalei Bay is now available for new ownership. Newly built in 2003 this 3 bedroom 3.5 Bath home is a TVR approved successful vacation rental. Another Guest house may be built on property (please verify density with County). Views of panoramic turquoise blue ocean, colorful sunsets, and majestic waterfall mountains abound. Exotic Brazilian cherrywood floor and marble stone touches compliment the home. The grand master bedroom is located on the 2nd floor. Also upstairs is the kitchen, living/dining room and powder room. The home offers two covered lanais, providing ample space for dining or lounging while gazing out to the Bay from back of home and gorgeous mountains from the front of home. The downstairs master suite and guest bedroom offer garden views. World famous “Pine Trees” surf break is right out your front door. Watch whales and world-class surfers from the wrap around lanai all winter, enjoy beautiful sailboats, and sunbathers all summer. Hanalei “town” is only a minutes walk away. This beachfront home is even better in person than the pictures can show.”

But don’t be sad! As Andy said, “You just deal with it, fuck! What if I didn’t win any world titles? What if? What if? What if the world ended yesterday, we would not be here! What if? I mean, fuck, I could drown all day in what-ifs. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen right now.”

Now let’s take a little stroll through the rooms…

(Click here!)

Adriano: “I just beat the best surfer on the planet!”

Adriano "Anaconda" De Souza Squeezes John John at the Drug Aware Pro 2015, Margaret River… 

By any measure, at least in the current system, Adriano de Souza clearly won the Drug Aware Pro a few hours ago. Two sets. A handful of turns with clean floater finishes. If you were there, y’would’ve seen the halos of spray from the beach, 300 metres away. An 8.93 and a 8.60.

Yup, fair.

Pro surfing judging, you see, ain’t the science of rockets. Adriano, who now swings as Anaconda (“Here comes the Anaconda squeeze!” said the commentator Aaron Blakey) knows better than anyone that you don’t need to throw your fins. Catch sets and tag ’em but be careful to sprinkle just enough sugar here and there or else you’ll be penalised for playing it safe (Just ask Nat Young in his semi against John John) and you’ll nail eights.

Never nines. And never tens. But average 16 in your heats and you’re a world champion.

Adriano finished the Australian leg of the 11-event tour with a third (Snapper), a second (Bells) and a first. Eight k points between him and Mick Fanning in second place.

John John, meanwhile, stole the smaller waves, collected a nine and a back-up seven that could’ve swung from seven to nine, depending on your mood. And that’s the thing about judging. What differential do you apply to John John’s frontside whips, daggers, stabs, whatever you want to call ’em, that teeter on the precipice for the duration of the turn, to Adriano’s classic-enough but danger-free wraps?

John John Florence
“The big ol noodle whips, those arms that dance around,” said the commentator Ross Williams who was in as good form, in the commentary booth, as John John was in the water. 

Compare Adriano to John John’s waves and the judges threw John John an average of a point-and-a-half higher for turns that no one else in the world can do.

Is it enough? Is it fair?

Whatever, Adriano is a world away in number one. His secret?

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”

Chris Ward: “I shared beers with kangaroos!”

Amazing out of context quotes from the world's most interesting surfer.

“I don’t need to lie. I like to do stuff and I did. I did it just to say I drove all the way across Australia and I would do it again probably just cuz I liked it so much. My favorite part was going to a liquor store out in the middle of absolutely nowhere and asking for a beer. I’d take it outside and there’d be kangaroos who would ask to share it with me. I mean, they wouldn’t ask like…what was that movie?…Kangaroo Jack…but they would ask in their own way. They would move their arms a little like they were drinking. I’d finish ¾ of the beer and give it to them. I was sharing a beer with a kangaroo. I don’t care who you are that is fucking great.”

I saw Chris Ward five years ago on the bluff overlooking Margaret River. The contest was on and he was standing next to his rental car all smiles and tan and his smiles were so white. His rental car was not white but rather covered in bugs. Thousands and millions of little deaths. And he told me he had just driven out from Melbourne, all the way across Australia, and I didn’t believe him, at the time. But he did do it, as I found out later in many many apocryphal stories and also from Chris Ward himself. “I’d do it again, probably, too, just because I liked it that much. I love to drive.”

There is something distinctly ethnic about his face up close. That tan is not purely Caucasian. “I’m half Thai, or Indonesian,” he says. I tell him I thought he was Cherokee or some other American Indian varietal. “Cherokee? I like that. They are a strong people.” His unique features and that smile and those sparkly eyes make him a magnet for fine ladies. Also his charisma. Chris Ward is pure charisma. When the waitress comes, for example, his eyes fire and his smile works and the waitress melts into a little puddle.

Chris Ward is a story. A breathing story. Everyone is always telling chapters or paragraphs or sentences. The story spins out. Some of the elements are naughty, like dark winter nights up in Mammoth where women get beaten with icicles. Some are ridiculous, like a young Ward hitchhiking and performing tricks with a cavity and dental floss at age ten. All are awesome. Here are some.

“I don’t know. I love adventure. I never want to pass something up. I want to experience everything. And it keeps the dull out of surfing. Waaaaay too many dull stick figures around. You gottta have something to back the surfing. A personality. When people sit and watch the surfing webcasts I hope they don’t think that’s what surfing is. I just want to be exciting…have an exciting life. Maybe that’s just how I am.”

“I love to go on my backhand in the barrel because you can get in different positions and learn things. Frontside you’re facing the wave the whole time. Backside there are all these variations. Looking, grabbing…different lines.”
Plots and subplots. Maybe some of this heaving backside business has to do danger. Nothing so dangerous as face planting dry reef. Does he ever get scared?

“No. You can’t get scared. You just have to charge in your life. Ahhhhhhh shit. You know, I don’t like to admit that I get scared sometimes. If something happens I go into survival mode. Like last year I was out at Morro Bay with Ashley and our boat flipped. I think it was the same set that washed through Mavericks and hurt all those people…but anyhow we were out on the boat and the ocean was cool but then it turned ugly. Beyond ugly. And a big sneaker set flipped my boat right over. Instinct took over. I bear hugged Ashley and swam down and away as fast as I could. I knew that the way you die is to get sucked down in the draft of the boat. So I bear hugged and swam down as far as I could and then out. We popped up and there was some guys on jet skis who sat with us until the Coast Guard came… Another time when I was fifteen I was on the North Shore and out on, like a….I don’t know, a 6’1 or something. It was fun but then the swell just jumped and it got huge. The sky turned black and there I was trying to duck dive 30 foot waves at Rockpiles. I think I learned the hard way. If a swell is coming up check the buoys…and…”

“I came out to San Clemente when I was seven and a half or eight from Texas. I had a boogie board that summer and then I started standing on it. When winter came I just thought I’m gonna keep surfing. So I did.”

“Ahhhh when I was ten I remember cruising down in the mornings and seeing this dude, Reola (Mike Reola co-founder along with Matt Biolos of lost), who was feeding the pidgeons. We’d chat some, then a couple years later he had just started this brand with Biolos and was tie-dying some t-shirts. So, even thought I was riding for Rusty at the time, I’d go over and smash out some t-shirts for him. I was a grom and just stoked. Then a few more years down the line they had enough money to pick me up. They (lost) weren’t like the others. They were a rager company that was different. And people liked the vids, people liked the surfing. Lost was born.”

“That hurricane that hit Mexico in 2006? Yeah, I drove through that thing three times. Reola and I wanted to go and catch some hurricane swell so we drove down Baja, drove twenty whatever hours straight down there. And when we got to the spot it was perfectly glassy barrels but only like two feet so it wasn’t really worth surfing it. So Reola and I were just filming shit and there were these big puddles everywhere from storms. I was driving my truck through them and full speed and he was filming from outside. There was this one huge one but it had deep ruts in it so my tires got stuck in the rut and I drove right into a cactus that spider webbed the whole driver’s side of my windshield. Then the hurricane blew ashore and Reola and I had to hunker down in my truck. Things were pretty bad for a while and we started really running out of water. Reola was worried that the force would blow through the windshield so he stickered up the whole inside to stop it from collapsing but I couldn’t see anything so I’d have to drive with my head out of the window in a hurricane. I tried to get us to Cabo but had to turn around and then tried to get to Scorpion Bay but it was just full hurricane. Like huge rivers running everywhere. The Baja 500 was running at the same time and they were all getting stuck so we’d look after each other. We got to this river that had busted through a road and the Baja guys said it was impossible but I told them to fuck off and ran my truck right through it. That hurricane was not supposed to hit land but it just ground up the center of Baja. Finally we got to a place where there was no way out. A giant river busted the road and we were stuck. This was in the middle of fucking nowhere. And there was a Mexican family who took us in. They were, like, farmers. I don’t speak Spanish that good and they didn’t speak English but we understood each other. So we stayed with them. They had a well. After a few days the Mexican government came in on horseback and said no way the truck is getting out for weeks. They told us we had to leave the car and hike out on foot. So we did. We walked out and then got a ride to the airport. When we landed I had to go straight to Lowers because the contest was on and I surfed and got fifth. And the very next day we went back down to Baja, to the place where the truck was and got it. I brought the farmers all kinds of lost clothes, jackets, shirts, lots of jeans. Pretty much stacked up the whole village with Lost clothes……..”

Jamie O’Brien Does Proust

I want to die of a head wound at Pipe, says the ever-candid Jamie O… 

Jamie O’Brien is a thirty-ish surfer from Pipeline, yeah actually from Pipe, who threw away a probable career on tour to chase… laughs. Pro surfer or free surfer? Jamie figured he’d find a third way, in his case, creating the online web series Who is JOB, now into its fifth year.

For Jamie, it was a way of turning his life on the North Shore with his pack of goofy pals, which let’s face it, ain’t that serious, into a serious career alternative. And, Jamie wasn’t down with how surfing had become even more serious since his ASP rule book burning days.

“Everyone’s just kinda hipster and wants out of being fun,” says Jamie. “Who is JOB is like Volcom and …Lost in the early days. Everyone is so f**king serious! Surfing’s not what it was in the ’90s and 2000’s, it’s lost that whole punk rock, rockstar vibe, which made surfing really cool.”

But he knows – he gets it– that it’s given his career a second wind. “It’s definitely given me more traction in my career. And it’s a still a surf career but it’s… fun. That’s what you get from thinking outside of the box a little. And people respond to the underlying message which is, let’s do stupid stuff! Let’s surf and have fun! Everyone embraces it. I have five-year-old kids coming up to me. I have people older than me coming up to me to talk about Who Is Job. I do what I do and I surf and my friends may not be the best surfers abut we have the best time. I just love it. Every day I wake up and think, this is so fucking rad, man. I just think of the stupidest things to do and get shacked.”


Now let’s see how he responds to the Proust questionnaire…

Your favourite virtue: Honesty.

Your favourite qualities in a man: Self-reliance.

Your favourite qualities in a woman: Self-respect and a desire to protect her personal virtue.

Your chief characteristic: I’m straight-forward.

What you appreciate the most in your friends: Loyalty.

Your main fault: Drinking beer.

Your favourite occupation: Surfing.

Your idea of happiness: Home, Pipeline. Not travelling.

Your idea of misery: Small waves.

If not yourself, who would you be? One of my friends at home. Just a normal human being hanging out.

Where would you like to live? Pipeline. North Shore. Hawaii. If you grow up somewhere that’s spot-on you don’t ever want to leave.

Your favourite real-life heroes: Anyone with a story and a well-rounded life, Greg Noll, Jimmy Blears, Dave Wassel, Shane Dorian.

Your favourite musicians: Life is too simple to worry about the musicians in the world.

Your favourite food and drink: Newcastle beer is my favourite drink and my favourite food is Poke.

What you hate the most: Liars.

World history characters you hate the most: Kim Jong-il.

The natural talent you’d most like to be gifted with: To be a professional BMX rider.

How you wish to die: Head wound at Pipe.

What is your present state of mine: Positive.

Your favourite motto: Living the dream.

David Carson
Don't you just love a man who can swing his talent into the world, blow minds, and then retreat behind the walls of the perfect surf lifestyle?

Surfer Named 18th Best Designer in History!

Ahead of Gaudi, Marcel Breuer, Arne Jacobsen and superstar architect Zaha Hadid… 

The graphic designer David Carson is a loose naturalfooter who was smart enough, years ago, to buy a dreamy spread overlooking an equally dreamy righthander on a Caribbean island.

So he works, he travels, but he comes home to his divine patch to ride mostly uncrowded green water rights. He invites shapers like Dan Tomson, famous lately for his collaboration with Kelly Slater and Firewire surfboards, to come and ride and play and design.

A surfer to the bone.

Recently, he was voted the 18th most influential designer in history by Complex magazine.

(Click here to read) 

In his foamy wake are the Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi, the great modernist Marcel Breuer, the Danish designer of the Swan and Egg Chair, Arne Jacbson and the superstar architect  Zaha Hadid.

Only one rung ahead of Dave is the husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames, whose chairs have become the most pirated in the world.

Don’t you just love a man who can swing his talent into the world, blow minds, and retreat into the perfect surf lifestyle? It gets better. BeachGrit, a fan of Carson since he turned fusty Surfer magazine into the hippest thing alive, overnight, in 1991, asked him to create a new WSL logo, just for you, just for me, after he called it “silly and embarrassing.”

(Read here) 

It’s coming, too! Soon!

I’m getting close, even have a few logos designed,” he said yesterday.