Irons Wins Van's Triple Crown Round

 

November 9, 2004

Huntington Beach -- 26-year old Andy Irons of Princeville on Kauai, Hawaii won his third consecutive Association of Surfing Professionals Van's Triple Crown of Surfing world title.

Irons, 26, of Princeville on Kauai, had entered the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' second-to-last World Championship Tour event in Florianopolis, Brazil, holding a lead over his last remaining challenger, Joel Parkinson of Queensland, Australia. He was declared champion Monday when Parkinson failed to advance beyond the third round and was mathematically eliminated. Had Parkinson stayed in the race, the title would have been decided at the season-ending $260,000 Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters, the third leg of the Triple Crown, Dec. 8-20 at the Banzai Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore.

Irons prevailed in a dramatic final-heat showdown with six-time world champion Kelly Slater last year at the same location. Slater, 32, of Cocoa Beach, Fla., was eliminated from this year's world-title race in mid-October.

Irons and Slater will both compete in the final round of Triple Crown, which is considered second in difficulty and prestige only to the world title. The competition window opens Friday for the first leg, the $125,000 Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Ali'i Beach. The second leg is the $125,000 O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, Nov. 26-Dec. 7 at nearby Sunset Beach.

Among those trying to improve their standing on the WQS circuit will be Chris Ward, 26, of San Clemente, and Timmy Reyes, 22, of Huntington Beach. Ward is ranked fourth on the WQS and has already qualified for the 2005 WCT. Reyes is ranked 12th and needs only a modest showing in either event to advance to the next level.

The WCT is comprised of the world's top 45 surfers. The top 27 in the final standings automatically re-qualify for the following year, there are three wild-card spots, and the remaining 15 qualify from atop the WQS rankings. Ward and Reyes' qualifying for the WCT would provide a much-needed boost to the Southern California surfing community because there are only four Southland surfers competing on the top circuit this year — and three of them are in their 30s. The youngest, Tim Curran of Oxnard, is 27.