Bruce Irons’ girlfried, model Hailee Wade, has entered him into eight events on the qualifying series this year, report our friends from the good ship Beach Grit. The first of these is the 6-star Burton Auto Pro, which begins on Monday next week at Newcastle, Australia.
The news is of course most welcome, and while it comes as something of a surprise, stirrings have been afoot in the Bruce camp for several months now. Back in December, after learning that Billabong were not offering him a place in the Pipe Invitational, and thus that he would have no chance of qualifying for the Pipe Masters held in memory of his brother, he was clearly devastated. He took to Instagram, writing in a post deleted not long afterwards that it was one of the lowest days of his surfing career, and that he had lost all respect for the brand.
He’s been on the war path ever since. Several weeks later at the Backdoor Shootout he finished third, separated from first-placed Mason Ho by just 0.69. Then at the Volcom Pipe Pro he won the eight-man wildcard heat with the highest-scoring wave of the day, thereby booking himself a spot in Round 3. “I want to win this contest,” he said afterwards, “I want to win again out here. I want to win the Pipe Masters. I want to get in the Pipe Masters. I want to win, period, and out here is the place I want to do it. That’s why I’m here.” The subtext here was obvious — placing highly at the Pipe Pro is an alternative route into the Pipe Invitational, and thus the Masters — and his pointed words seemed aimed squarely at the gullets of the Billabong hierarchy. His subsequent Round 3 heat was a fascinating affair. Positioning himself slightly further out than everyone else, Irons sat almost motionless for twenty minutes before again posting the day’s highest score for a single wave. It was his only wave of the heat, and he failed to advance.
“I fucking blew it, brah,” he told Beach Grit later. “I got good waves but, fuck, I was getting on a roll and I blew it so fucking hard. I was going to win that contest.” His new manager, he says, is getting him “back into the swing of things”, and while qualification may not necessarily be the ultimate aim — it’s hard to imagine Bruce slugging it out in the QS slop every week — it sounds like he’s frothing on the contest vibe once again. “I definitely want to win something. Oh fuck yeah.”