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Andy Irons of Kauai advanced yesterday in the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach with a total score of 13.00. CLICK FOR LARGE
Good fortune gets Irons through at Sunset
Despite his unquestioned ability and mettle, Kauai's Andy Irons knows that to sustain a championship streak, sometimes you have to get lucky.
Holding every Vans Triple Crown of Surfing winner's trophy save the one from the contest he's currently competing in -- the 32nd annual O'Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach -- Irons got a stroke of good fortune yesterday to continue his quest to be the first to hold all four championships from the series at one time.
Surfing in the fourth round and on his second ride, Irons dropped in on the shoulder of a wave already being ridden by France's Jeremy Flores. Two of the five judges ruled an interference on Irons. But since the three others didn't, Irons wasn't penalized and the ride ended up being one of his top two that allowed him to win his heat and move on to the final day of competition in the Triple Crown's second jewel.
"I thought I got an interference, but (the judges) have been pretty lenient this year," said Irons, a former three-time world champion.
"(Flores) didn't make it around the section," he added. "These little things definitely give you that edge, and I was a little lucky there to pull through."
Irons received 5.67 (out of 10) points for that controversial ride, and then added a 7.33 later for a winning 13.00 heat total. South Africa's Jordy Smith (11.23) also secured a spot in the quarterfinals by placing second behind Irons, while Flores (8.17) ended up being eliminated in fourth place.
All eight heats of the fourth round were completed in inconsistent 8- to 14-foot-face surf, and Triple Crown officials decided to halt the rest of the competition. The remainder of the event will run today, the last day of its waiting period, in what is expected to be extra-large surf from a new swell.
"I'd rather finish in a rising swell rather than a declining swell," Triple Crown executive director Randy Rarick said. "We've had a pretty lackluster year for surf, and to finish this contest on a high note would really make up for what we've experienced so far."
Heat winners also included current world No. 6 Joel Parkinson (Australia) -- who had the highest total of the day with 17.80 -- No. 2 Mick Fanning (Australia) and No. 42 David Weare (South Africa).
Some of the biggest names still in the event moved on by finishing as heat runner-ups, including current and record eight-time world champ Kelly Slater of Florida, and Hawaii's Pancho Sullivan (No. 26) and Fred Patacchia Jr. (No. 14).
Slater, Sullivan and Parkinson will be in the first heat to hit the water today in what appears to be the most stacked quarterfinal, while Irons is in the third.
The waiting period for the Triple Crown's final jewel, the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters at the Banzai Pipeline, begins Friday and runs through Dec. 20.