This afternoon Mick Fanning won the Quiksilver Pro. He also, to my way of thinking, wrapped up the world title. Now you’d need a beautiful mind to try work out the various permutations of who needs to do what in the following three events to catch him, and my beer and fromage fried brain isn’t up to the mathematics of it, but I do know that Mick’s lead is now huge. In fact for the other contenders to still be in with a chance come Pipe, one of them will have to win the next two events. Possible? Well sure, I mean one of them just happens to be Kelly Slater, but after this event, it just seems so bloody unlikely.
The final, held in two-foot offshore rights after much deliberation and waiting, was pretty indicative of the way Mick surfed the whole comp. He got off to a flyer, and then increased the pace, his flawless timing and power built around near perfect technique and total confidence. I watched his semi and final from the water’s edge along side Mick’s caddy and team manager Matt Griggs, and early on Griggsy knew he was backing a winner. “He is so dangerous when he’s racking up waves early like this,” Griggsy said at one stage. “He’ll build and get more loose and confident and he’ll be unbeatable.” That statement turned out to be prophetic and he made his opponent, 31-year-old Greg Emslie, surfing in his first ever WCT final, look like he was on Valium. And that’s showing no disrespect to Greg; right now Fanning is making everyone look like they’re on the slow pills.
In fact the only guy in the event that looked like he could take it to Mick was his good mate Parko, and he went out in the first semi-final, a victim of the lower tide’s fatter lefts. With Parko out, for me, there was no way Mick wasn’t going to win.
And so now over the last 12 months, with the exception of last month’s early loss at Trestles, Fanning has made the quarterfinals or better of every event he’s entered. He’s throwing away a 17th and a 3rd, and more importantly, he’s surfing with such force and style, training and eating with unflinching focus and generally getting on with the job of being the best surfer in the world.
Mind you, there might be a small blip in the plan tonight. I saw him briefly as I left the comp, avoiding the marauding crowd who had stormed the barriers creating a massive scrum around the new French favourite. “I’ll see you at the Caf de Paris for a beer,” I mouthed over the throngs and cameras and stalkers and autograph hunters. “No you won’t,” he responded, surprising me with a knock back. Was he really this serious about this whole world champion business? “Eugene, will see you there.” A cold shiver went down my spine. The event and day had drawn to a close, the night however, the night was just about to start.