Since the Billabong Pipe Masters event is in memory of Andy Irons, Bruce Irons seems like he should be a shoe-in for a wildcard. In the last few weeks, the internet was screaming for it. #bruce4pipelinewildcard was all over the place… and the WSL just announced that Bruce is officially in.
“I’m so honored to be given the opportunity to compete in the Pipe Masters in memory of my brother,” Bruce said. “I reached out to Kieren [Perrow] a couple of weeks ago and asked if it would be a possibility and he’s been completely open with me through this whole process. I understand that the opportunity is coming to me due to someone withdrawing, which is never what you hope for, but I’m really pumped to surf Pipe with the world’s best. Really looking forward to the event and I hope the waves fire.”
Since Freddy P and Matt Banting have both withdrawn from the event, the powers that be decided to give one of the replacement spots to Bruce. “We feel like he’s certainly a worthy candidate given the form he’s in,” said Kieren Perrow. Looking forward to a great event.”
Bruce and Pipeline go well together. He’s got a history with the place, and although he beat Kelly Slater to win the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2001, it goes far deeper than event wins. Bruce Irons is a staple in the line up when Pipeline is maxing. For years, he’s been one of the guys to watch for. That’s why last year, when Billabong decided not to include his name on the invitation list to the trials, Bruce was understandably upset–and so were many others.
“Today is one of the lowest days of my surfing career,” Bruce wrote on Instagram, “because Billabong told me there is no room in their contest which is in memory of my brother.”
It was pretty messy. Of course, the WSL has to follow their own rules when it comes to things like this, in fairness to other competitors. Both sides of the coin were fairly obvious: for a long time, Bruce was admittedly struggling with some demons after his brother’s death. His surfing wasn’t as good as it once was. He seemed lost; rumors of heavy drug use were rampant, and when he was competing it didn’t seem like Bruce Irons. Many thought that giving him a spot would be a waste; that there were others more deserving who really wanted it. But he was still Bruce Irons–that fearless, preternaturally talented Pipe surfer was in there somewhere, and he was, after all Andy’s brother.
This year, however, it seems that the Bruce of old is back. From the outside, it looks as though he has put his head down and decided to make himself happy. After a long, understandable struggle, one would hope that Bruce Irons has found his way back on track again. And when Pipeline is doing its thing, there is almost no one better to watch than Bruce Irons. Let’s hope that the waves show up to the party and Bruce is in the form he’s capable of.