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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Updated: June 15, 10:42 AM ET
He's baaack

Andy Irons and Roy Powers sharing a moment prior to their Round 2 duel.

It's been a long time since we've seen Andy Irons surf a heat like it mattered, but after withdrawing from the tour limelight more than a year ago, yesterday the three-time world champ scraped together his first heat win since returning to full-time competition earlier this week. His win over longtime friend Roy Powers came in a drizzly, relatively low scoring Round 2 heat at the Quiksilver Pro -- but as they say, a win is a win.

"I have to improve a lot more," Irons said in his post-heat interview. "I have to find the right board. The waves are just really slow and mushy today so I rode a longer board. Snapper's a perfect wave, but it's really hard to perform here - I don't know why."

The man's still got it.

Regardless of headspace, it's good to have Irons back. He brings a lot of flavour to the mix, and is another good reason to follow the tour. But to be fair -- and judging from how he's talking to the media, he's obviously well aware of this fact -- it's going to take him some time to get his train up to full speed. In my humble opinion, watching him approach his waves in Round 2 he seemed a little lackadaisical, a little casual -- minus the monster layback he threw down at the start of one of his scoring waves. When he was at the height of his power he'd bring the Art of War to every heat. He'd surf with so much aggression; every turn had crazy, angry power behind it. Plus, he was as mean as a back-alley pit bull.

But you can't fault a man for maturing, I guess. Irons has more than the talent and ability to get back to where he was, and where he wants to be. On his part it's going to take the desire and drive to actually put himself there. On the media and fan's side, we need to understand these things take time. There's a whole pack of ambitious youngsters eager to prove themselves, and what better way than nipping at the heels of the only man to school Slater?

Believe it or not, Irons wasn't the only person to surf yesterday. Other notables include Patrick Gudauskas, who made his first heat after handling Michel Bourez, Luke Stedman seems to have successfully returned from injury, besting Drew Courtney, and Gold Coast native son Dean Morrison advanced over rookie Matty Wilkinson.

The women also finished up Round 2 of the Roxy Pro, and it was Chelsea Hedges and Sofia Mulanovich moving on into the money rounds.

Round 3's of the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro are up next and the forecast continues to show signs of hope. More to come when it matters.

Heat 9: Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.17 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33
Heat 10: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.83 def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.37
Heat 11: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 9.53 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 8.07
Heat 12: Mick Campbell (AUS) 15.17 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 14.00
Heat 13: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.54
Heat 14: Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.43 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 7.97
Heat 15: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.57 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 13.36
Heat 16: Luke Stedman (AUS) 10.44 def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 9.57

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Heat 6: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 7: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 12: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 13: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 16: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)

Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 14.83, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 12.76, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 9.67
Heat 2: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 12.94, Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.43, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 5.23

Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Amee Donohoe (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Bruna Schmitz (BRA)
Heat 3: Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Rebecca Woods (AUS)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Lee Ann Curren (FRA)
Heat 6: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) vs. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF)
Heat 7: Melanie Bartels (HAW) vs. Jessi Miley-Dyer (HAW)
Heat 8: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)