5 Lessons From Andy Irons’ Overdose

Opiates ain't toys, re-evaulate what it means to be "bad-ass" and love doesn't conquer all… 

Earlier today, the trailer for the Andy Irons documentary Kissed by God was loosed ahead of its May 2 world premiere.

It is a cautionary tale of a life lived as a banquet but found bitter.

“A film about bipolar disorder and opioid addiction etc.”

I remember, vividly, the Wednesday morning when Taj Burrow fired a text message from Puerto Rico to a mutual friend saying that Andy Irons had been found in a Texas hotel room. A few calls and I was into the Tarrant County coroner’s office. AI’s body was inside. He’d been found by two hotel workers at the Grand Hyatt at Dallas-Forth Worth airport, dead, bed sheets pulled to his neck, an empty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on the floor beside him.

Andy Irons, who was thirty two, had died six thousand clicks from a wife pregnant with his son Axel and a home gilded by the rays of a Hanalei sun.

Andy brought light but he also summoned the executioner. And there are five things we should learn from his death.

    1. It’s okay to tell your heroes “No”: If you’ve ever hung around a famous athlete, surfer, baller, whatever, you’ll know the dynamic. It’s a sea of sycophancy. Prior to landing in Dallas, Andy had been in Miami trying to score…well… it wasn’t weed. That happened all around the world. He didn’t have to try real hard to get high. Everyone’s your friend at midnight. A few years ago, I was shocked when a shaper pal worded up a noted pro surfer who’d done something stupid with the line, “Everyone here is so intent on sucking your ass they won’t say a damn thing. Well, I will.” Andy needed a few men like that.
    2. Opiates ain’t a toy: Back in 2010, we were all still under the impression that it was okay to throw a few Oxy’s down our necks. Government approved. Made in commercial factories. So clean and safe and… ooowee, that numb feeling. What we didn’t get was it was this was a roundabout way of chasing the dragon except it came in a neat little pill. More than two million Americans are now hooked on legal opiates. The result? Drug overdoses killed more people in the US last year than in the entire Vietnam War. 
    3. Love doesn’t conquer all: Andy had a wife he loved, a house on his favourite beach and a kid about to be born. And, still, he needed to get high.
    4. Nihilism is lame: Andy told me, “I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen right now.” If you live like there’s no tomorrow, one day you’re gonna be right.
    5. Re-evaulate what it means to be radical and bad-ass: Andy’s best friend was Cory Lopez. A few years ago, I called him to talk about his old pal. “Life and death is such a fine edge we ride. Andy wouldn’t have been who he was if he didn’t do what he did. That’s why we loved him so much, because he was so extreme. We lived vicariously through his radical and wild life.” Is being radical, a “bad-ass” worth dying for?

Get Andy talking about surfing and he’d light up like a damn Christmas tree.

“Surfing’s the only thing that’s always been there day in, day out, fucken girlfriend breakups, fucken report card fails, surfing always makes you feel better. No matter what, when I’m in the water, even if I don’t catch a wave and just swim in the ocean, I always come out a better person.”

What if Andy had found a way of kicking the pills?

What if he was happily retired, surfing with his little boy in front of the Hanelei bomber, Lyndie maybe ready to burst with another kid?

Wouldn’t that have been radical too?

The Inertia reveals surfing’s biggest secret!

Almost guaranteeing CT results in mere weeks!

There you are bobbing in the water, having surfed for 30 years and not a pro. 30 years and not a pro. Crazy, right? You’ve surfed an average of five hours a week during those thirty years which equals 7800 hours. Not what Malcolm Gladwell prescribed but close and you are no better a surfer then you were 27 years ago.

Oh those first three years were delightful and saw progression each and every second.

There you were riding straight on your belly in the whitewash. There you were getting to a knee while riding straight in the whitewash. There you were getting all the way to your feet and then, weeks later, motoring down the line. At that speed you were going to be a professional in no time. Fighting it out on the QS before getting a few wildcard entries before cementing yourself as a mainstay.


But as soon as you locked in a stuttering wrap to whitewash reentry all progression stopped. Ceased. Nothing.

And you have spent the past 27 years repeating stuttering wrap to whitewash reentries.

But then you read a quiet little article on Venice-adjacent’s favorite alternative lifestyles blog The Inertia succinctly titled This One Mistake Slows Down Most Beginning Surfers; Here’s The Simple Fix and it said:

This simple drill is called the Bird Dog and it can help you find better balance from a prone paddling position as part of my five-minute pre-surf warmup (you can get the entire warm up as a one-page cheat sheet here). By doing it regularly, you can also use it as a strength exercise for the core, upper back, and trunk.

Make sure that you focus your energy on using your core muscles, not the momentum of your arms or legs to complete reps. Do this slow and steady.

-Each motion should originate from your glutes, core muscles and shoulders.
-The goal is to keep everything tight and the hips steady throughout.
-Start on all fours, with the knees under your hips and palms directly under the shoulders.
-Look straight down at the floor with the chin tucked.
-Brace (contract) your stomach muscles (as you would instinctively protecting yourself from a punch).
-Lift one leg and extend it straight backward in line with your torso.
-Make sure you keep the glutes active (squeeze) and reach with your heel.
-In the meantime extend the opposite arm straight.
-Take a deep breath in the starting position and exhale during the motion.

If you find 3×8/side too easy, do it with a water bottle or light weight in your hand and put on leg weights. This will make it 10x more difficult and strengthen you further.

And it looked like this.

So now you think, “Look out John John Florence. I’m coming for you and hell is coming with me.”


Watch: New Andy Irons film trailer!

And release date!

There is little in our surfing world, at this moment, as hotly anticipated as the almost released Andy Irons documentary Kissed by God. That is was being made has been whispered for years. That it was going to someday come out whispered for more and now it has officially arrived. It is here.

The world premier is slated for Los Angeles’ New Regency Theater on May 2 and the film’s website says, first, as a description:

A film about bipolar disorder and opioid addiction as seen through the life of three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons. Andy struggled with the same demons that millions of people worldwide battle with daily. Andy was an incredible presence on the world stage as the “People’s Champion.”

And will be very interesting to see.

Margaret River: Surfer “Swiped” By 12-foot Shark!

Beaches closed until six pm Thursday…

If you live in Australia’s south-west, you might want to mothball the sleds for a few weeks, maybe a month, give a little room to all the feisty Great Whites.

Last night, at around at five-thirts, a surfer was “swiped” by a twelve-foot shark at South Point, across the bay from North Point. According to Perth Now, 

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said the surfer was swiped by the tail of a 3.5 metre shark about 15 metres off Gracetown’s South Point yesterday.

The surfer was uninjured in the encounter, which happened about 5.30pm.

Beaches between North Point and Ellensbrook have been closed until at least 6pm on Thursday.

While boats can continue to use the water, surfers, swimmers and divers are being told to stay out of the water up to two kilometres out to sea.
You don’t need a reminder, I’m sure, about the Great White attack on Alejandro Travaglini at nearby Cobblestones nor the White attack on Jason Longgrass at Lefthanders a few hours after (which you can watch here). 
It really is the season of the shark. Stay tuned, I suppose, for tomorrow’s instalment.

Podcast: “That damned Wussy Sissy League!”

Is Jake "The Snake" Paterson the cure for what ails us?

I don’t follow astrology closely though do know that I am a Leo (in the western version) and a dragon (in the Chinese one).  It seems like a nice hand to have been dealt, as far as these things go, but would gladly trade both if I could be a snake. A slithery, slippery snake. For Jake “The Snake” Paterson is on a rocket ride to the top of our professional surf game remaking the very image of what a coach is supposed to do.

Tell me honestly. If you had enough skill to climb onto the World Championship Tour but needed a coach to stay there who would you choose? Charlie Medina and his fiery passion? Ross Williams and his cool detachment? Jake Paterson and his jumps and jives?

I think it isn’t even close. I think Jake Paterson is the only coach worth paying. Whether you loved or hated Zeke Lau’s demolition of John Florence it is a win that would not have occurred without coaching. And at the Margaret River Pro (RIP) Coach Snake videoed another charge, Mikey Wright, push fighting Jesse Mendes who I think is another charge. An amazing instinct, if you ask me, to not only film but post to Instagram for the world to see.

Jake is crafting drama in a world where drama and anything even remotely interesting is directly frowned upon. He is taking a wrecking ball to the bland and that is who I would want for my coach. A man willing to blow me up along with the system.

The prolific David Lee Scales and I chat about the Year of the Snake on today’s episode of Grit! and about how his approach is maybe the only way to bust up the Wussy Sissy League. We also chat hair pulling and neck tanlines. I think it is the best show yet but maybe I’m just drunk.