Mick Fanning wins Quiksilver Pro France and solidifies his rankings lead. The Cooly kid has added a few wrinkles since his last title and now sits in the box-seat for a ASP World Title treble.
After the surfers passed up beautiful, but inconsistent, La Graviere tubes two days previously you had to wonder how much more confident Mick Fanning would have been paddling out to that; instead of the onshore peaks at Le Penon which confronted him as he paddled out to face the the prospect of a rejuvenated Gabriel Medina.
Fanning hustled the first wave for a 7.83. Medina, rattled, shot for the moon and didn't even come close to sticking it. Then, as if to make peace with the God of that 20 point heat he memorably surfed here in the KOTGs back in 2009, Gabriel, stomped a brace and followed it up with another sandwiched in-between a couple of nicks off the top. Game-on and Mick needed a plus 7. Up until this moment, Fanning's surfing had been on point, hitting every section with speed and precision, reading the wave like well thumbed favourite, and suddenly it all went away. He couldn't buy a score. Then when all was lost he nailed the wave, surfing the guts out of it for the score. Was it an 8.8? Our Facebook erupted with a chorus of "over-scored", but it was masterclass of hitting the sweet spot (including one wobble) and turning a wet rag into a winning ride. You can watch it here, tell us what you think.
Conditions deteriorated towards the end, but I was a little lucky with that last wave I guess. Gabriel and Filipe have just been going so big, I just thought I'd stick to my game and it sort of paid off towards the end. I watched them flipping around in the air, they have no fear and go so high it's incredible, I wish I could start again with new ankles and try to do some airs like that. Mick Fanning
Two things mattered before this final: Kelly was already out, offering the possibility of extending some blue water, and Mick needed to get an event win. Not just for the points, but also because who has heard of a World Champion being crowned without winning an event? Excluding Parko last year who won the Pipe Maters after he'd already clinched the World Title. And there's the rub, consistency is key, and Fanning in 2013 has been just that. With a: 3rd,
5th, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 3rd, 9th, 1st, he is on course to grasp the biggest silver pot on offer.
Kelly prophetically said after his loss, "This probably evens everything up. I mean I really did have an advantage. If Mick wins the event he'll probably move ahead of me with a couple of throwaways."
It's unlikely but Mick could win the title at Supertubos coming up on October 9th. "I'm pretty emotional, I never really got into rhythm until this morning so it feels great," an ecstatic Fanning stated. "It just feels so good, Gabi is such an incredible kid, even with 20 seconds to go I was still under pressure, it just feels so good."
"Conditions deteriorated towards the end, but I was a little lucky with that last wave I guess. Gabriel and Filipe have just been going so big, I just thought I'd stick to my game and it sort of paid off towards the end," Fanning continued. "I watched them flipping around in the air, they have no fear and go so high it's incredible, I wish I could start again with new ankles and try to do some airs like that."
A philosophical Gabriel Medina said. "I'm really happy I made the final with Mick, it's been a good week with a great result in the end. I'm stoked, another final and now I'm off to Portugal and hopefully I can do good there again. I always like to come here to France, the waves just suit my surfing. It already used to be a good place for me, but it just keeps getting better and better."
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE FINAL RESULTS
1- Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.66
2- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.00
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE SEMI-FINAL RESULTS
SF1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.10 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.03
SF2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.87 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.93
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS
QF1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.77 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 13.60
QF2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.00 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.77
QF3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.37 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.40
QF4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.70 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.00