Thank you Andy

It has been seven months and seven days since Andy Irons passed away in an unlikely Dallas hotel room. The the loss of a living legend, family man and fearless competitor in his prime has shaken the surfing community to its core and drawn the unscrupulous gaze of mainstream media.

In the aftermath, I doubt Andy could ever have imagined how much love and respect for him would remain in this world.

According to one of the toxicology reports that was released today there were traces of cocaine and methamphetamines in Andy Iron’s system. If you’re anti-drugs or drug users this is your moment for a self-righteous murmur and shake of the head.

Young people take drugs because they’re a lot of fun. I guess you could compare recreational drugs to dropping down a ten foot wave that’s breaking over finger coral in a foot of water. It’s wild. Except, of course, that surfing doesn’t have a come-down.

Professional surfers are pretty extreme characters when you think about it. Anyone willing to spend half their life under the baking sun, throwing themselves off heaving ledges of water purely for the thrill might conventionally be considered mentally unstable. And guys like Andy who regularly conquered maxing Teahupoo and Pipe, defying death without so much as a rail grab are the craziest – and most talented – of them all.

The world’s most extreme characters often have an equally extreme affinity for substances that enable them to break free from the mould and release them from the constraints of consciousness. To get high. Genius requires a counterbalance – and oblivion is often that. We just happen to live in a world where particular drug forms, such as alcohol, are considered a societal norm – and legal – whereas others are not. I’m not saying that drug use is a good thing: weed, coke, ecstasy, heroine and alcohol can provide fun times but they all have the potential to destroy minds and lives.

As we well know.

But I think that today, seven months and seven days on from Andy’s passing, we should celebrate the extremists. Fucken’ ay Andy. You lived your life and went out with a bang. You broke our hearts and we miss you more than you’ll ever know. To Lyndie and Andy Axel there’s no shame and we should regret little. Andy was a shooting star who we will treasure, each in our own way, always.

In the words of uncle Jack Kerouac: