"Those stories seem outrageous don't they? I wouldn't believe it if someone told me."
In August, the Australian Josh Kerr won the Four Seasons invitational contest in the Maldives, an event that tests the savvy of surfers on singles, twins and three-packs.
Also in the event, and in order of placing, were Alejo Muniz, Fred Pattachia, CJ Hobgood and local wildcard Abdulla ‘Fuku’ Areef.
A sixth competitor, Bruce Irons, was a notable absentee.
Shortly after his non-appearance, I spoke to Bruce, who is thirty-eight years old and living in Salt Creek in southern Orange County, about the chain of events that led to his withdrawal from the event.
Well, first, hoo-ee, it’s been three years since I spoke to Bruce, since he told me he was jumping back on the qualifying series, so there’s a little bit of catch-up.
I tell him I’m the now the biz partner of a best-selling author (buy Coke and Surf here, free worldwide delivery); Bruce says he’s had two months out of the water, all of June and July, after laser eye surgery. A pterygium made it feel like “someone had spit in my eye. Last winter, I’d drop in late, pull up and all of a sudden lose my balance. I looked like a fucking kook. I spent thirty years not realising it. It was like looking through a glass bottle. Towards the end it was really bad, like, does she have fuzzy skin? Do you have…scales?”
As for missing the Maldives, well, that’s a three-pronged story.
First, Bruce was psyched to go.
“I wanted to go and fucking wax Freddy P. We had a vendetta. In our last little matchup in Bali I smoked his ass. We were staying together. He got second and I won. I knew he’d be coming with his A-game. As for Kerr, I knew he was going to win. I saw him surf that single fin in that Rusty vid, doing airs, and alright, well, yep, he has his shit down. So… I was bummed. Fuck.”
The last time Bruce was in the Maldives was with old pals Chris Ward and Shane Beschen.
“Chris tried to do a Muay Thai kick and he slipped over and split his head in front of me,” says Bruce. “I went to kick in his face and slipped and got a huge bump on my elbow. He got up in the morning and we got into it again because he thought I’d punched him. He broke my boards and my mini-DVD player, back when they were a thousand dollars out of Singapore. It was Beschen’s Bombay gin that started us.”
So what happened on this trip?
“It was a string of fucking…okay…it’s partially my fault. I was moving out of my place, I was hotel hopping, I had all my fucking stuff in storage, a car full of shit, and I got my boards sent to a friend’s place in Venice. As I was driving up there, I grabbed all my stuff. And I open it all up and I’ve only got a double board bag. It was, like, shit, crunch time. Plane to catch. I needed to open up the bag, go boom, boom, boom. Oh my fucking god. This is not going to work.”
(Flight to Dubai missed.)
“Next day, I get there three hours before the thing opens. I call this service on Yelp where they come and pick up all your luggage so I don’t have to sit there with all my stuff. (Later), I call the guy and I say, ‘Alright, boom, drop off my shit, I’m over here.’ The guy comes up and tells me he doesn’t take credit cards. Cash only. I have a credit card, that’s all I’ve got. I tell him, ‘Fuck, I’ve got stuff I can give you, what the fuck?’ He doesn’t budge. Me and this dude are going back and forth… for fifty dollars. Everyone was losing. I’m going to miss my flight, he’s going to lose his fucking job. I tell him I’ve got GoPros, sunglasses, shoes. He asks me if I have any perfume. Per…fucking…fume! I gave him a GoPro to get my stuff. And I missed my fucking flight. Now…you’re not going to believe this.
“The third thing.
“So I go back to the motel. Next day, I get a taxi to the airport, my luggage is in the back. The driver gets into me for going so short a distance. A twenty-buck fare. He’s mumbling shit. Want me to get out? Right before we get out he tells me he’s from Ethiopia da da da. Whatever, all good, he’s talking, talking as I get out and then he takes off with all my luggage. Are you fucking kidding me? So I Uber back to the taxi bull pen. Eight lines. Fifty cars. They’re all yelling at each other. And I tell ’em, one of your taxi guys has my shit, the Ethiopian dude. The guy there says there’s so many cars and so many different races and I’m standing there going fuck, fuck, fuck. Then, because my iPad was in one of the bags, I tracked it to Hollywood. I go to my car and I’m flying towards Hollywood where this fucker is and then he comes back to the bull pen, turns off my iPad, but I’m already back there. I’ve fucking got him. The motherfucker. I tell him, what’s up motherfucker! You turned off my iPad! He said he didn’t know whose it was.
“(The trip) just wasn’t meant to be. It sucked. Those stories seem outrageous don’t they? I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me. Really? Really? So I’m sitting there, baffled, the fight leaves at one in the morning, the cops are there, and I grab my shit and get to there (check-in) with fifty minutes to go. The chick doesn’t let me on. Then it’s two in the morning and it’s like the Twilight Zone. I gotta get back to my car with my board bag, the car is filled with shit, and on top of it, I’m looking for a hotel in fucking LA, and everywhere is booked out. I find this one place, drove up to it, and there’s a dude on the porch, this full trap house, holding a bottle of hard alcohol, full gangsta, and I just did a full u-turn.
“I blew it. There was a string of events but you know how it is. I’m justifying it to myself. If I had a chick, this probably wouldn’t have happened. They’re all organised. I’ve been running my own shit. At the end of the day it’s my own fucking fault. I spent a lot of money. The first fight they paid for. I spent probably spent six grand and didn’t fucking go anywhere.”