It was typical that Andy Irons won the 2006 Rip Curl Search Mexico with one of the biggest airs that had ever been seen in competition. This event, after all, is considered to have featured more perfect barrels than any other in surfing history.
Yet in the Final, with good friend Taylor Knox off to a blazing start, Andy launched a huge, straight punt, landed clean and then powered down the line to wrestle back control. It was pure Andy: explosive, unpredictable, and performed with real steeze under intense stress.
In many ways, it can also be considered the last time that Andy truly dominated the center stage of surfing. He'd been on fire in the perfect conditions since Round 1, posting huge scores throughout. The highlight included a 18.10 heat total in a comprehensive defeat of his brother, Bruce, in their Quarterfinal.
In the absolute epic conditions Andy's tuberiding, power and flow were unequaled. While the defending World Champion Kelly Slater had a firm lead at the top of the rankings, in the mechanical perfection of Mexico we were once again able to witness peak Andy.
From this point on, those peaks became less and less regular.
He would only win another three CT events in his career. A fourth Pipeline Masters win, at the end of 2006, wouldn't be enough to stop Kelly's march towards his seventh World Title.
In 2007, in Arica, Chile he would defend this Search victory won here. It would then be another three years before he claimed his last win in Tahiti, just a few months before his tragic death.
However for seven days in June 2006, in some of the most memorable waves ever seen for elite competition, Andy showed the type of surfing that has made him an icon of the sport. He soared, both literally and metaphorically, above the pack and reasserted a dominance that had seen him win back-to-back-to-back World Titles earlier in the decade.