Quiksilver Pro France Day 4

SHOCKER!:Kelly and Andy go down in Round 3 at the Quiksilver Pro France

CONDITIONS: 4-6 foot and hollow but very tricky
HEATS HELD: Round 3 and Heats 1 and 2 of Round 4
NATURE'S CALL: Smaller tomorrow but could be decent
PREDICTIONS: Mick versus Taj or Parko in the finals

Mick Fanning is now poised to put serious distance between his competitors and the world title

An Australian will win the world title this year. A heavy call with four events remaining and Kelly Slater in 2nd place and Andy Irons lurking in 4th? Yes, but today they both lost in Round 3. How bad was it? It was Kelly's worst result in two and a half years and it came at the worst possible time – right when he looked set to make a run. Up till today, everything had been going Kelly's way. The other night the surfers even voted to use his new dual man on man format at Pipe. Now he'll be lucky to even be in the title race by then. And Andy? A 17th at an event he's won three out of the last four years? Devastating.

How did it happen? How do the two men who've dominated professional surfing since 2001 go down to Michel Bourez and Luke Munro? Fairly easily in face. Bourez, a Tahitian trialist wildcard who only got into this event when Travis Logie withdrew due to injury, got the only decent tube of the heat, nearly dug a rail on the bottom turn, but managed to pull through. Slater meanwhile, looked out rhythm from the start, broke a brand new board halfway though and then waited on the beach for a replacement. After that, needing only a 6, he raced down the line on a solid one looking for a shack on the inside, but couldn't make the connection. On the beach, he was left muttering "If only, if only," but overall he took the loss well. He hung out for the rest of the day and even jammed on the guitar with Tom Carroll in the surfers' area. Bourez, may be largely unknown, but he's a strong surfer and an ASP Europe champ. His terse comment upon victory: "I did my job. That's it."

Andy, who's looked strangely disinterested this year in nearly every event, had a shocker later in the afternoon against Luke Munro. His total heat score – an unthinkable 4.0. He nearly made an incredible air at the end of the heat, but overall, nothing went right for him. Afterwards, he seemed sanguine about the whole thing. He smiled, signed autographs and posed for photos on the beach.

And the Aussies? They quietly took care of business. Mick dispatched Miky Picon with relative ease and now sits in the catbird's seat as he contemplates his Round 4 heat first thing tomorrow morning with Ricky Basnett – who's already posted his career best WCT result. Taj, who's been hot and cold all year, looked mediocre in the morning against Trent Munro, but electric in the evening when he took on Royden Bryson. "I'm focused on Mick but I can't deny that a huge door opened today," said Taj. Meanwhile last year's winner here Parko keeps plugging away. His quote after defeating Phil MacDonald in the last heat: "It wasn't pretty, but a win's a win."

We'll likely finish tomorrow. The swell will be dropping but the conditions are likely to be clean and after a long frigid day on the beach, hopefully the air will be hotter. White lighting hot? We'll see.

Aussie Phil MacDonald was on a roll until he met up with Joel Parkinson in Round 4

(1st advances to Rnd 4; 2nd finishes =17th)

Heat # 1: Joel Parkinson def. Mark Occhilupo
Heat # 2: Phil MacDonald def. Cory Lopez
Heat # 3: Royden Bryson def. Adrian Buchan
Heat # 4: Taj Burrow def. Trent Munro
Heat # 5: Pancho Sullivan def. Victor Ribas
Heat # 6: Greg Emslie def. Jeremy Flores
Heat # 7: Raoni Monteiro def. Josh Kerr
Heat # 8: Michel Bourez def. Kelly Slater
Heat # 9: Mick Fanning def. Mikael Picon
Heat #10: Ricky Basnett def. Leonardo Neves
Heat #11: Neco Padaratz def. Bobby Martinez
Heat #12: Bernardo Miranda def. {{{CJ}}} Hobgood
Heat #13: Luke Munro def. Andy Irons
Heat #14: Rodrigo Dornelles def. Luke Stedman
Heat #15: Dayyan Neve def. Dean Morrison
Heat #16: Troy Brooks def. Kai Otton

(1st advances to Quarters; 2nd finishes =9th)

Heat # 1: Joel Parkinson def. Phil MacDonald
Heat # 2: Taj Burrow def. Royden Bryson

Heat # 3: Pancho Sullivan v. Greg Emslie
Heat # 4: Raoni Monteiro v. Michel Bourez
Heat # 5: Mick Fanning v. Ricky Basnett
Heat # 6: Neco Padaratz v. Bernardo Miranda
Heat # 7: Rodrigo Dornelles v. Luke Munro
Heat # 8: Troy Brooks v. Dayyan Neve