Irons Brothers Eager to Take Top Honors at Billabong Pipeline Masters

Photo: Andy Irons will vie for Pipeline Masters title No. 5 this year.

Three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) has won the Pipeline Masters four out of the last six years and will be chasing event title No. 5 when the Billabong Pipeline Masters Dec. 8-20, 2008 waiting period opens tomorrow. Irons chose not to compete in the last two ASP World Tour events in Spain and Brazil, but will be back in action and ready to reassert his dominance at Pipe this week.

“I took a break for about a month and came back to the North Shore to train and get my rhythm back,” Andy Irons said. “The Pipe event has been in the back of my head for over a month now, and these past couple weeks of surfing and training have brought my confidence back to where it needs to be. I’m ready. I know I can win out here.”

Irons won the event in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Only nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has more victories at Pipe– Slater won the event five times, earning top honors in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999. If Irons can clinch the title in 2008, he and Slater will share the record for the most victories at Pipeline.

Andy Irons’ brother Bruce has won a specialty event at the break and competing in his last event as a full-time ASP World Tour surfer, would love nothing more than to go all the way this year. Bruce won his first ASP World Tour event earlier this season in Bali.

“It felt good to finally get a win in Bali after all these years, and I’d be stoked to go out and win Pipe to finish off the year,” Bruce Irons said. “But I’m sick of people saying this is going to be my last event. I’m not going to be on tour officially, but I am still going to surf the Tahiti and Pipe events. You can’t get rid of me that easy.”

The concluding competition of both the 2009 ASP World Tour and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is unique in that 14 ‘Pipeline Specialists,’ one Vans Triple Crown Contender (Hawaiian Dusty Payne) and one Tahitian Invitee (Manoa Drollet) are seeded alongside the ASP Top 45 and three event wildcards (Shane Dorian, Laurie Towner and Kalani Chapman).

The Hawaiian Pipeline specialists who qualified earlier in the year are: Dustin Barca, Makuakai Rothman, T.J. Barron, Ian Walsh, Marcus Hickman, Jessie Merle-Jones, Nathan Carroll, Ola Eleogram, Kekoa Balcaso, Daniel Jones, Mark Healey, Kamalei Alexander, Tory Barron and Dave Wassell.

Former event champion Jamie O’Brien (HAW) will replace an injured Neco Padaratz (BRA), Torrey Meister (HAW) is in for Jordy Smith (ZAF) who hurt his knee surfing Sunset and 1999 ASP World Champion Mark Occhilupo will replace Travis Logie (ZAF) who pulled out for personal reasons.

The top three contenders for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title (a three-event Hawaiian specialty series) are Dusty Payne (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA) and Joel Parkinson (AUS).

“Small surf is forecast for the first day of the waiting period, December 8th, with a new W/NW swell filling in Tuesday the 9th and building into Wednesday the 10th,” Randy Rarick, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Director, said. “There is a 13 day window from December 8-20th with competition being held on the best three days.”

The Billabong Pipeline Masters will utilize the ASP Dual Heats Format from Round 1 through the Quarterfinals. It will be man-on-man from the Semis onwards. Surfers are seeded into the first three rounds, with top seeds not competing until Round 3.

Billabong Pipeline Masters Round 1 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Royden Bryson (ZAF) vs. Shane Dorian (HAW)

Heat 2: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) vs. Daniel Jones (HAW)

Heat 3: T.J Barron (HAW) vs. Nathan Carroll (HAW)

Heat 4: Daniel Wills (AUS) vs. Kamalei Alexander (HAW)

Heat 5: Jihad Khodr (BRA) vs. David Wassell (HAW)

Heat 6: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)

Heat 7: Dustin Barca (HAW) vs. Ian Walsh (HAW)

Heat 8: Jay Thompson (AUS) vs. Torrey Meister (HAW)

Heat 9: Ben Bourgeois (USA) vs. Laurie Towner (AUS)

Heat 10: Makuakai Rothman (HAW) vs. Ola Eleogram (HAW)

Heat 11: Luke Munro (AUS) vs. Kalani Chapman (HAW)

Heat 12: Ricky Basnett (ZAF) vs. Marcus Hickman (HAW)

Heat 13: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) vs. Tory Barron (HAW)

Heat 14: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) vs. Jamie O’Brien (HAW)

Heat 15: Daniel Ross (AUS) vs. Mark Healey (HAW)

Heat 16: Manoa Drollet (PYF) vs. Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW)

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