The Day Andy Irons Did The Impossible
With Shaun Cansdell.
SW: Some 15 years since he took the Pro Junior scene by storm, 11 since he climbed podium at the 2006 Fiji Pro, and countless more since we rewound Because I Wanna for the third time – since all of that, the stoke that Shaun Cansdell exudes for riding waves remains alive and well. In recent times he's turned his hand to surfboard shaping and honed his skills to finesse. There in the shaping bay of Shaun Cansdell Shapes, amidst the whirr of the planer and plumes of sawdust, Shaun finds time to reflect on his days as a touring Professional Surfer – some of the best of his career. To rub shoulders with the likes of Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow and Andy Irons, was a dream come true. To trade waves with them, an honour. To measure against them, a privilege known only to the elite 44 (in the days of the ASP). Shaun's lived these moments, and he jumped at the chance to share with us the best surfing he's ever played witness to at the ocean's edge...
SC: I was lucky enough to score a few trips with Parko, Taj and Andy the year that they were shooting Trilogy. I’ll never forget those times.
Billabong sent us to this long right sandbar in Southern Mexico, and we scored it for six hours straight with no one out. That session became the first section of Trilogy. They shot the whole thing in one day, and sure enough, Andy was going hambone! Just picture Snapper draining inside out with no crowds, and that’s what it was like. We definitely spent more time in the salsa than we did at the taco stand that day, which was just the sickest thing ever. We kept doing runs back up the point, ‘til our arms felt like soggy tortilla and our legs burnt like reaper chillis, then you’d have to go in, cram as much food as you could fit into your head. It doesn’t get much better than that – pumping waves, empty lineup and three of the most mental surfers on the planet lighting it up! You’d be stuffing your face on the beach, then Andy would melt your face into a wet puddle on some mutant sand monster with the longest, deepest pits.
Next we flew to Bali, the swell heaved for two days straight and I don’t think I saw Andy on dry land once in those 48 hours. From all the Trilogy sessions, if I had to pick one wave that really stands out in my mind as the best ever, it would without a doubt be from the first day of this swell – 8 foot Keramas. Andy was in the zone, toying with these things like they were three foot beachies.
The wave I’m talking about broke right in front of me. I was paddling out and watched him knife into this bomb. He pulled up super late under the lip and disappeared. I thought he got clamped, then out of nowhere he punches through the chandelier and lays into this huge layback snap under the ugliest closeout section you’ve ever seen. It was sick to see how hard he belted it, but not so sick to see that same giant chunk of ocean fold over my beak like a giant garlic crusher. I don’t think anyone else could have handled that section with the level of composure and style that Andy did. We’re talking big, angry, Keramas, and he just tore it in half like it was a wet piece of paper – fully committed from start to finish. Anyone else would have gone straight over the hangers. Go back and watch his section in Trilogy, it’s in there, and in real life it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen!
Andy was epic to be around. He could dial into a lineup faster than anyone else I’d ever met. I think everyone around him tried to learn a few things off him along the way, but I probably should have asked a lot more, because I know he would have answered back no worries.
He was just a top bloke.
A stoked out portrait of Australian Junior Surfing in the year 2018.
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