Mick Fanning took a commanding lead in the race for the 2013 ASP World Title with a steely performance on the final day to win the Quiksilver Pro France.
Paired up against a seemingly unstoppable Gabriel Medina in the final, Fanning trailed early, but locked in a clutch eight-point ride to seal the victory. It was his forth career victory in Hossegor. In the quarterfinals, Fanning faced down a very eager John John Florence, then got his good friend Joel Parkinson in the semis.
"I'm pretty emotional, I never really got into rhythm until this morning so it feels great," Fanning said. "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."
After a string of second and third place finishes this year, this is Fanning's first win in 2013. It puts him 6,000 points in front of Kelly Slater, making him a convincing favorite to win his third world title this year.
Medina's second-place finish was also his best result of the year, and further proof that when he gets on a roll he's very hard to beat. He had to get through Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo just to make the final, which is no easy chore.
"I'm stoked for Gabriel too, he started strong with a 9 and a 7, those lefts with the wind are everything he loves to go big," said Toledo. "It's a huge confidence boost before Portugal, and important points for the Rookie of the Year race, I'd like to finish the year in the Top 10. I love Europe, there's really good beachbreaks and it's a lot like Brazil."
Medina's battle against Fanning was a demonstration of opposing styles. Medina is the aerialist, blasting maneuvers with such consistency that perhaps it downplays the risk involved. While Fanning applies a heavy does of rail in a much more classic or conventional style.
"I always like to come here to France, the waves just suit my surfing," said Medina afterward. He's previously won this event in France, as well as won a Rip Curl GromSearch title, so to say he feels comfortable is a bit of an understatement. "I'm really happy I made the final with Mick, it's been a good week with a great result in the end."
The world tour will now quickly focus its attention on Portugal and the Rip Curl Pro starting on Oct. 9. If everything plays in Fanning's favor he could clinch the title there, and even if he doesn't, Slater has a serious uphill road to climb.
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