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Irons remembered for inspiring young surfers

By Jason Kaneshiro

LAST UPDATED: 5:06 p.m. HST, Nov 2, 2010

As much as for his three world titles, Andy Irons is being remembered for the impact on surfers who followed.

The surfing community is mourning the death of Irons, who blossomed from a promising youngster from Hanalei into an international surfing icon by his mid-20s

Irons, 32, was on his way back home to Kauai when he died today while on a layover in Dallas.

"His titles alone speak for the impact he had on contemporary surfing," said Randy Rarick, executive director of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. "But I think his legacy is what he's left for the future generations to be inspired by."

Rarick was among those who tracked Irons' growth in the sport, first watching him surf off Kauai's shores when Irons was 14.

Irons went on to win four Triple Crown titles and three Association of Surfing Professionals world titles in a remarkable stretch from 2002 to 2006 that elevated him to the sport's elite.

"That three- or four-year battle he had with Kelly Slater on the tour, those guys they did some unreal things for competitive surfing," said surfing legend Ben Aipa, who coached Irons prior to his professional career. "Being that Andy was from Hawaii and going up against Kelly was something the kids really absorbed. They took it in and you could see kids trying to mimic (Irons)."

Irons had withdrawn from the ASP World Tour contest in Puerto Rico and had entered this year's Triple Crown, a three-event series that begins with the Reef Hawaiian Pro on Nov. 12 in Haleiwa.

"Particularly being a four-time Triple Crown champion was really a pride for him," Rarick said, "and also for us, having someone like him being from Hawaii win the thing four times."

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