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A beautiful tribute to Andy Irons November 16, 2010

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Friends and family gathered yesterday to celebrate the life of Andy Irons. Here is an excerpt from the article in The Garden Island newspaper.

HANALEI — Signs lined the highway entering Hanalei town, welcoming the waves of people who came to Kauai’s North Shore from all points on the globe to pay tribute and celebrate the life of Andy Irons.  The Kaua‘i-born surfing legend was found dead at age 32 on Nov. 2 in a Dallas-area hotel. He had recently withdrawn from the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search due to illness and was returning home from Puerto Rico.

While November North Shore days can often bring heavy cloud cover and sporadic rainfall, Sunday was clear and sunny, providing a warmth that was fitting to commemorate a friend to so many.

An estimated 6,500 people lined the beach at Hanalei Bay — some fans, some acquaintances, many friends and family.  As far as the eye could see were arms cradling surfboards.  Pine Trees was the focal point, as the Irons ‘ohana and close-knit circle had their own tent together.  The memorial service began with an opening prayer by Kelvin Ho.  The family gathered together by the stage as onlookers came together to share their aloha.

A massive paddle-out had already taken shape with hundreds of surfers out past the break. They were gathered together, holding hands, crying out cheers of “AI” and splashing wildly to let out a full complexity of emotion — a complexity that Andy himself embodied. As Bruce Irons led the paddle-out of Andy’s closest friends and family, a helicopter made multiple flower drops over the growing swarm while a conch shell continued to be heard throughout the festivities.

The Irons family all proceeded to make their way out into the water, using Jet Ski and surfboard. Each time family members would embrace one another, a loud cheer could be heard from the rest of the floating masses.  After their time together, Bruce came back towards the shore on a Jet Ski, holding his board above his head, prompting noise from those on the beach.

The day was a combination of remembrance and celebration. A glimpse of someone mourning was often balanced by keiki running and playing in the sand. Smiles were plentiful, as were friendly embraces.  Many of the sport’s elite were in attendance as a lay day was called at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the first leg of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which began Friday on Oahu, though no action has yet taken place.

• David Simon, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or  dsimon@kauaipubco.com.


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