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ANDY IRONS' AUTOPSY ANALYSIS June 09 2011

The following statement was just released by the Irons family regarding Andy's autopsy and toxicology report. The full report was prepared by the Tarrant County, TX Medical Examiner's office and will not be made public until June 20.

We have received the final autopsy and toxicology report filed in connection with Andy's death on November 2nd, 2010, from the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office in Forth Worth, TX.

The family apologizes for the delay in the release of this information. The injunction filed last December was to allow Andy's widow, Lyndie, who was then eight months pregnant with Andy's son, Andy Axel Irons, to give birth in peace.

Please understand that this decision meant that the family did not learn the cause of Andy's death until May 20th, and only after a second delay was requested by an attorney in Dallas, without the family's knowledge or consent, to provide time for the 13-page toxicology report to be interpreted by two independent forensic experts -- a process that took several weeks, but also enabled the family to fully come to terms with the unexpected root cause of Andy's death.

The autopsy concludes that Andy died a natural death from a sudden cardiac arrest due to a severe blockage of a main artery of the heart. Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a prominent forensic pathologist in San Antonio, TX, who has consulted on many high-profile cases, was asked to review and explain the autopsy results to the family. 

He states: "This is a very straightforward case. Mr. Irons died of a heart attack due to focal severe coronary atherosclerosis, i.e., 'hardening of the arteries.' He had an atherosclerotic plaque producing 70%-80% narrowing of his anterior descending coronary artery. This is very severe narrowing. A plaque of this severity, located in the anterior descending coronary artery, is commonly associated with sudden death."

Dr. Di Maio continues: "The only unusual aspect of the case is Mr. Irons' age, 32 years old. Deaths due to coronary atherosclerosis usually begin to appear in the late 40's. Individuals such as Mr. Irons have a genetic predisposition to early development of coronary artery disease. In about 25% of the population, the first symptom of severe coronary atherosclerosis is sudden death." He concludes: "There were no other factors contributing to the death."

Andy had a grandmother, 77, and a grand-uncle, 51, both on his father's side, who died of congestive heart failure. Looking back, Lyndie recalls that Andy complained of chest pains and occasional intense heartburn for the first time last year, and also recalls a holistic health practitioner, whom he sought out in Australia for vitamin therapy, offhandedly mentioning he "had the heart of a 50-year-old." In addition, Andy contracted Typhoid Fever five years ago, which can result in damage to the heart muscle. But Andy shrugged it all off and led no one to believe he was in ill health.

The official autopsy report, prepared by Tarrant County Chief Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani, MD, lists a second cause of death as "acute mixed drug ingestion." 

On this point, Dr. Peerwani and Dr. Di Maio diverge. In a letter sent to Arch McColl, a Dallas-based attorney acting on behalf of the family, Dr. Di Maio questioned Dr. Peerwani's decision to list the finding "Acute Mixed Drug Ingestion" under "Cause of Death" because he believes "it was not the cause of death and did not contribute to the death. The Manner of Death is in fact labeled Natural." 

Dr. Di Maio goes on to say that the drugs cited, Alprazolam (Xanax) and methadone (an analgesic drug commonly used in the treatment of chronic pain), are in "therapeutic levels" and notes that benzoylecgonine is an "inactive metabolite," which Gary H. Wimbish Ph.D., DABFT, a forensic toxicologist consulted by the family, has explained is a breakdown product of cocaine. Wimbish states that the benzoylecgonine present in Andy's blood at 50 ng/ml "is consistent with the use of cocaine at about 30 hours prior to his death." In addition, Wimbish agrees with Dr. Di Maio that that the amount of Alprazolam present in Andy's blood "is consistent with a common therapeutic regimen."

Dr. Peerwani's report also cites the presence of a trace amount of methamphetamine. Lyndie insists Andy was not a methamphetamine user, so it is likely the substance was present in the cocaine he ingested. But again, Dr. Di Maio believes that none of these drugs was the cause of, or contributed to, Andy's death.

As we are not doctors, we have no choice but to accept that two respected pathologists have come to different conclusions about a secondary contributing cause of death. 

However, the family would like to address the findings of prescription and non-prescription drugs in Andy's system. Andy was prescribed Xanax and Zolpidem (Ambien) to treat anxiety and occasional insomnia -- a result of a bipolar disorder diagnosed by his family doctor at age 18. This is when Andy first began experiencing episodes of manic highs and depressive lows. The family believes Andy was in some denial about the severity of his chemical imbalance and tended to blame his mood swings on himself and his own weaknesses, choosing to self-medicate with recreational drugs. 

Members of his family, close friends, and an industry sponsor intervened over the years to help Andy get clean, but the effort to find balance in his life was certainly complicated by his chemical makeup.

Finally, as has been reported, Andy was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms while in Puerto Rico to compete in the Rip Curl Pro Search leg of the ASP World Tour just days prior to his death. Andy was unable to leave his bed and for the first time in his Pro career, withdrew from a contest. He was put on an intravenous drip for hydration and strongly advised to seek further medical treatment. Against doctor's advice, Andy left for Kauai, Hawaii, to be with his wife, telling the doctor: "I just wanna go home."

Though Andy's illness is not addressed in the autopsy (which only tested for and ruled out suspected Dengue Fever), Andy's weakened condition clearly contributed to the tragic circumstances of his death, adding more stress to an already gravely compromised heart.

Having defied the odds so many times before, Andy may have felt that getting on a plane while dehydrated and wracked with fever, and choosing to meet up with acquaintances during a short layover in Miami, was nothing out of the ordinary. His strong-willed personality was part of what made him such a formidable surfer and champion. Like others who face down extreme danger, Andy seemed to feel bulletproof -- as if nothing could take him down. But traveling while sick and suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition, was more than even Andy could overcome.

We are hoping that people will remember Andy for his very full life, which included his intense passion for surfing and the ocean, his astonishing achievements as a world-class athlete, and his devotion to the family and friends who love him dearly and miss him every day. Receiving the disturbing news about the cause of death brings back the shock and tremendous grief we first felt upon receiving word that Andy had passed.

We would like to thank everyone for their condolences and support over the last seven months. There was so much positivity in Andy's professional and personal life, not least of which was how hard he worked to overcome his challenges. For this we remain forever proud of him.

This continues to be a very difficult time for our family and we appreciate the media's respect for our privacy. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support and will not have any immediate comment beyond this statement.

For those who wish to honor Andy's memory, we ask that they consider making a donation to the Surfrider Foundation, a charity Andy supported, at www.surfrider.org"

--The Irons Family 



Interview: Shane Dorian On The Billabong Inflatable Wetsuit June 07 2011


TransWorld SURF: Let’s start with the wipeout at Mavs in 2010 that got you thinking about a way to make big-wave surfing safer. You’re pretty understated about it—but you were in bed for a few days straight afterward, right?

Shane Dorian: Yeah, I basically had the symptoms of a concussion. I was really rattled physically. I was sick, nauseous, and all that kind of stuff. It was a horrible, horrible wipeout. It was mostly air deprivation kind of stuff. I couldn’t stay awake, and basically slept for two whole days and had a really bad headache, dry heaving a bit. But I don’t want to hype it up too much. It was a terrible wipeout, I almost drowned, but there weren’t any crazy side effects or anything.

Who decides who can get one of these suits?

That’s one reason it’s taken a while for this all to happen, and both Billabong and I have known that’s going to be the hardest thing. It’s tricky. We don’t want people thinking, ‘I’ve always wanted to surf Mavericks,’ or wherever. I don’t want the suit to take the place of experience, ability, common sense, or good judgment. It’s supposed to help make the people who are already doing this and love to surf big waves safer, that’s the point.

What I’ve done at this point is reach out to Twiggy [Grant Baker] from South Africa, and asked him to give me the names of all the guys who are really into it over there. And then I reached out to the Santa Cruz and Maverick’s guys to get a list of guys and girls. The Hawaii guys I sort of know.

But it’s definitely not up to me, I’m not going, ‘Yes, no.’ It’s tricky, and I know Billabong has gotten a lot of requests from people. It’s hard because there are a lot of underground guys who are hardcore big wave riders who surf big waves way more than I do, and who want this suit. I know Billabong is doing the best they can to filter through everything, and make them available for people who love riding big waves. There’s no easy answer though.

The most public preview people got of the suit was at that insane paddle-in session you and Ian Walsh had at Peahi (Jaws) in March, when you pulled in to a huge barrel. The lip closed down on you, and you inflated the vest underwater. Do you think you would’ve pulled in if you hadn’t have been wearing the suit?

Well, if I caught that wave I was going to pull in no matter what. Where I was positioned on that wave, I couldn’t have made it to the channel without pulling in. It was either go straight down and get blown up for sure, or pull in and probably get blown up. So that choice was basically already made for me when I stood up.

But that’s not why the idea came to me in the first place; it had nothing to do with enhancing performance, or giving anyone more confidence. It’s purely to make things safer and save lives. But to be honest, I’d already done some testing with the suit, and it definitely added to my confidence that day. But it’s definitely not to the point of like, ‘I’m going on this wave no matter what, because I’m going to come up no matter what.’ It’s meant to make it harder to be held under for two waves, and an added measure of safety. Again, it’s not meant to take the place of experience, ability, and common sense.

The most obvious use seems like it would be at deep-water breaks like Peahi and Mavs. Do you plan to wear it at a shallow reef like Shipsterns or Teahupo’o?

I would definitely wear it at Teahupo’o, for sure. At a place like that the wave is probably not going to drown you, or there’s a lesser chance because it’s so shallow, but there’s a really good chance of hitting the reef hard, and possibly dying from hitting the reef so hard. If you’re able to get the thing inflated quick enough, I imagine it would help to keep you farther away from the reef.

Falling on a big wave at Teahupo’o, you’re almost guaranteed to hit the reef. At Teahupo’o you get pounded uphill, because it goes from super deep water to super shallow. If you have an inflated air bladder it would help you stay closer to the surface.

Do you feel like it’s pretty well tested at this point?

No, we’re still in a testing phase, there’s no doubt about that. I’m the only one who’s had a suit; no one else has tested it yet but me. That’s part of the reason we want to get it out to a lot of the guys, so there’s more feedback coming in to refine it and make it safer and better.

I’ve only pulled it on three wipeouts. I’ve tested it a lot in flat water, in non-surfing situations. But in big waves, I’ve only pulled it three times, so it hasn’t been tested enough. But just like any other product that makes things safer, the more testing the better.

One thing I want to say is that in the press release it was called an invention. But this isn’t something I feel like I invented. It’s technology that was already in place. Similar things are out there, like this thing backcountry snowboarders and skiers use that in an avalanche will pull you to the top. I didn’t know about that until about a month ago. And there’s another one for freedivers that I’ve seen that’s a little thing on their belt. So, I don’t think of it as an invention, I think of it as an innovation that’s new to surfing and a different application. I don’t want people to think that I think that I invented something.

On a technical note, the bladder is inside the wetsuit, so it’s not something you can put on a regular suit, right?

No, you can’t. But I’m going to have some prototypes made of a vest that could possibly go over a wetsuit, or even something you could wear by itself if you were someplace in Hawaii just wearing trunks. It would make it super simple and easier. But I’m not sure there’s enough room for the stuff you need in there to modify a vest. As it stands now, it’s a modified wetsuit that has to be customized for the flotation device.



Futures Fins releases Rob Machado Fin June 06 2011



Rob Machado's fin features a torsional flex pattern

Surfersvillage Global Surf News
, 1 June, 2011 : - - After nearly 10 years of riding the Futures system, Rob Machado has signed off on his first ever signature fin.  The collaboration between Rob and Futures is the perfect blend of cutting edge hydrodynamics and environmental sustainability. Rob’s fin features a torsional flex pattern, thanks to Futures’ V2 foil and a layer of strategically placed carbon fiber. 

Combined with renewable, fast growing bamboo, the fin is both light and lively. Designed for Rob’s explosive style, the bamboo carbon matrix stores potential energy and releases it as a burst of kinetic speed. Rob had been riding the V2 AM1 BlackStix for years, he said, “I knew that was a good starting point for me in designing a fin. I just really liked the flex that the BlackStix had. I don’t know exactly what it does but it feels good. I am more of a feel kind of person, you know… sometimes it just feels good.”

“We have been lucky to work with Rob and we are proud of how this fin turned out,” says Head Designer and Founder Vince Longo. Rob’s fin is made of a high quality epoxy resin, instead of polyester.  Not only is epoxy resin stiffer, lighter and better performing, it is also more resilient and releases less VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).

The Rob Machado Signature Fin represents a step forward in decreasing the environmental impact of the resin transfer process, while remaining Strongest, Lightest, Fastest.   

 

Congrats Spyder on Oakley Shop Challenge Win June 05 2011

TEAM SPYDER WINS IN NEWPORT / STOP 4 SOUTHWEST

As head-high waves rolled through Newport Beach’s 56th street, a mix of surf shop employees and pros slugged it out in one of the closest Oakley Surf Shop Challenge events ever. By event’s end, it was the Zaun brothers of Spyder Surf who led their team to victory at this year’s Oakley Surf Shop Challenge Western regional event.

In the first round, the nine teams comprised of four surfers—two shop employees and two pros—wasted no time in making work of 56th street’s punchy beachbreak. At the front of the game stood Val Surf’s whammy surfer, Dillion Perrilo, who he received a 9.03 for a giant slob-grab.

“I saw the end section and thought I’d try an air-reverse, but then as I got closer I decided to play it safe,” said Perillo. Safe was understatement, and since Dillion was Val Surf’s “whammy surfer,” the judges doubled his score to give Val Surf a birth into the final.

As the 2010 Western regional champions, Jacks Surfboards stood in strong contention to repeat last year’s success after Clay Crandal posted a 5.93 for two backside turns. But moments before Clay’s wave, Spyder Surf’s whammy surfer Dane Zaun ripped into a mid-size left all the way to the beach to earn a 6.0 and give Sypder surf an early lead in the Finals.

Following Zaun’s rhythm was Spyder’s two shop employees, Dickie O’Reily and Chris Broman. After O’Reily posted a score of a 4.13, Broman used his smooth and effortless style to net a score of a 4.53 and force his competitors to lock in a good score. However, Katin Surf Shop’s Ryan Carlson did just that. After nearly pulling a backside air-reverse on his first wave, Carlson stuck with his strong aerial prowess and soared high into the summer air to earn an 8.17 and give Katin the advantage.

With the hopes of a Western regional title lying on the shoulders of Spyder’s youngest surfer, Kelly Zaun took to the water. After patiently waiting, Kelly used his powerful rail-to-rail surfing on one of the heats better rights and was rewarded with a solid 6.77. With this ride, Spyder now had the ball back in their court and could nearly taste the event’s win.

But as time dwindled down, Katin’s whammy surfer, Teddy Navarro, posted a 5.97 that put Katin back within reach of taking top-honors. In the dying moments of the heat, needing a score in the high-four range, Katin’s Drew executed a layback snap on an inside section that would fall just short, and give Spyder Surf Shop the Western regional title.

“I wasn’t going to go because there was a three-wave set, but luckily I went and was able to do one good turn and a layback on the end section,” said Spyder Surf’s Kelly Zaun. “We’ve been doing this contest for five years now and have never won, so to finally win is awesome.”