Andy Irons was more than just the best surfer at Teahupoo, he redefined the way the wave could be ridden.
For many surf fans, images featuring his iconic barrel stance will be burned into their memories. Invariably, he’s stood bolt upright, casual as you like under several tonnes of turquoise pacific lip, usually having completed an impossible looking drop just seconds prior.
His contemporaries make no bones that the way he attacked the wave changed the game:
Save for his historic 2010 win, perhaps the most iconic moment from Andy’s Teahupoo love affair was a wave that he later described as the best of his life:
The iconic clip begins with a huge set wave drawing up off the shallow reef. Andy swings, popping to his feet. As he begins his vertical ascent, his fins disengage, tail swinging out and he hangs for a moment, before catching his rail and man handling his board up under the lip, disappearing and then emerging with a violent Tahitian spit.
Here, he describes how he came to ride the wave that re-defined what was possible at Chopes:
We’ve just kicked off our UK tour of Kissed By God, a new documentary from Teton Gravity, which tells the full and unfiltered story of AI. The film offers a new lens through which to watch this old surf footage and when each of these clips is set in the context of the story, both seem to serve as an allegory for the way he lived.
Particularly, the unflinching motivation to be the best, especially when pitted against his brother and the no holds barred approach, which serve as enduring themes throughout the film.
While these archive clips certainly evoke sadness for a bright life lost, they also show unequivocally that Andy’s legacy lives on through the approach of today’s generation.
Look closely when the Teahupoo open kicks off in five days and you’ll see how his unique style at Chopes has paved the way for today’s front runners, like John John and Julian. Their positioning, the weightless late takeoffs and the determination to look casual once locked into the jaws of a Teahupoo bomb all bare the unmistakeable hallmarks of AI, further cementing him as one of the best and most influential surfers to ever grace the Tahitian line up.
There’s still plenty of chances to join us for a screening of Andy Irons; Kissed By God in a city near you. Check out our full list of tour dates here.
Cover photo: Brian Bielmann// Billabong