A lot has been written about Andy Irons from some of the surf world’s most notable personalities- people who knew Andy personally and interacted with him in a variety of ways.
So, I’ll offer some perspective coming from the rest of us– fans of Andy who knew him only through a prolific collection of videos, magazines and online webcasts, but who somehow still felt strongly connected to him, just as if he was one of our own crew paddling out, laughing, and sharing good times and bad with one another.
Keala Kennelly wrote in a moving tribute to Andy that her remembrance was “…one of the hardest things I have had to write about, because I don’t feel like anything I write will be good enough to honor Andy.”
Keala, if you happen to read this, it was better than “good enough”.
What was so beautiful about it is exactly what was so beautiful about Andy. It was an honest expression of emotion that came straight from the heart. And honesty in all things (writing, design, music, art, people…) is what ultimately makes them special and so compelling to all of us.
When I reflect on Andy’s passing, I do so coming from a perspective that is likely not too uncommon– that of a lifelong, die-hard Kelly fan, Andy’s long-time nemesis.
I viewed Andy as a “villain” (aka “asshole”) for a great part of his career until ultimately won over, not just by his incredible surfing, which was always undeniable; but by his fierce competitiveness, raw energy and passionate personality– no matter where that passion was directed.
But Andy’s rise from Antihero to Almighty, even amongst those of us who once rooted against him, wasn’t just about that endearing kinetic energy that oozed from him. No, what ultimately drove his popularity off the charts for all of us, the rest of us– even Kelly fans, was when he finally started owning his insecurities.
Not hiding them.
Not apologizing for them.
Just being authentic and admitting that he had them like everybody else. Just like Kelly himself did in front of Andy following the death of his father, as he so eloquently related in his own moving tribute to his career-long foe and good friend.
That’s why Andy became and remains one of my favorite surfers.
It’s one of the same reasons people are drawn to Dane.
And, it’s why Keala’s tribute wasn’t just “good enough”, it was freaking perfect.
You see– you can be a superhuman surfer… and still be human.
I didn’t know Andy, but I sure do miss him.
You can see a lot of that honesty on display in this gem of a video.