If anyone was going to beat Mick Fanning this event, it was going to be Italo Ferreira. The young Brazilian was hooking tight-enough arcs at the lip throughout the event that they may have given a lesser surfer whiplash. The 2018 Rip Curl Pro is Ferreira’s first ‘CT win, which seems surprising, but perhaps it signifies a fairytale beginning amid Fanning’s crushed fairytale ending.

“Wow I can’t believe that, I started slow but after that was amazing,” said an elated Ferreira in his post-heat interview. “Mick is one of my favorite surfers in the world. Thanks to God and my girlfriend. I’m so so happy. Mick is the best competitor ever. Thanks Mick!”

As much as the crowd may have wanted Fanning to take the win, it would have been hard to argue against Ferreira by the time the final horn sounded. Three-time World Champion and now retired ‘CT veteran Mick Fanning talked about the quality conditions after his semifinal heat win, and it indeed seemed like the perfect playing field for the most inform surfers of the event to finally clash.

Bells is an exposer of flaws, and many competitors fell victim this event, including both finalists Fanning and Italo Ferreira in their first exchange. Fanning, probably feeding off the electric crowd on the beach, tried pushing a little too hard on the closing maneuver of his first wave and went down—a mistake so rare, you could probably count on your hands the number of times it’s happened in Fanning’s career. But Fanning put it all together on his next scoring wave and finished strong with an 8.10, linking his textbook carves all the way down the point.

“Mick is a hero to me,” Ferreira had said earlier in the day, and that admiration (along with the Mickmania happening on the beach) must’ve caused Ferreira’s slow start in the final. But once Ferreira regained his rhythm, his backside hooks stole the show just as they had the entire event, and it looked as if all the momentum had swung back his way.

“My mates have been telling me ‘if you can’t ring it, send it,'” Fanning told Rosy Hodge after his semifinal win. But unfortunately Fanning didn’t quite get the opportunity to send it as hard as beachgoers would have wanted in the final, and Fanning never found a solid backup.

Congratulations to both Ferreira for his incredible performance and of course to Fanning for giving us 16 years of incredible performances. For more from finals day at Bells, Stay tuned for a detailed Rip Curl Pro wrap up from our ‘CT correspondent Sean Doherty.