COLD AS ICE:Mick Fanning Wins the Quiksilver Pro France; Can Seal the World Title in SpainCONDITIONS: 1-3 foot rights
HEATS HELD: Semis and Finals
NATURE'S CALL: Mundaka could start Wednesday or Thursday
PREDICTIONS: If it doesn't happen for Mick in Spain, it will in Brazil
Mick Fanning and Greg Emslie celebrate their good fortunes
"We can't wait to see Eugene. We like him much better. Mick's too bloody focused" – Jake Paterson to Mick Fanning after Fanning's win today
It's been a year since Eugene was seen on these shores. The last spotting occurred at Kelly Slater's 8th world title celebration at a five-star restaurant in Bidart. Before the night devolved into a full on food fight, Eugene gave a heartfelt toast. "8, my god how did you do it mate? he asked Kelly with drunken raw emotion. "I'm just trying to win one."
It's about to happen. That's because Michael Eugene Fanning now has a near stranglehold on the 2008 world title. If he wins at Mundaka and Kelly and Taj finish worse than 3rd there, the crown in his. At this event, from his first heat to his last, it was never in doubt in anyone's mind that he was the man to beat. He's turned into a machine. Troy Brooks had a lead on him in the semis with only six minutes to go and he ruthlessly took it away from him. Then the final against Greg Emslie was an absolute runaway. Mick's best wave, the best wave of the day by far, had tens written all over it before he even took off. The 9.93 the judges gave him, and which put the final out of reach for Emslie with over twenty minutes remaining, seemed almost like a disappointment. Just hand him the trophy and the title right now. He's earned it.
Mick's approach to heats is likely to be studied and copied by many young surfers. His preparation – the medicine ball, the headphones, the girlfriend keeping stats, the dad shooting video – is performed with military precision. If he hadn't come across a freak like Dane Reynolds at Trestles, it's likely that he would have won the title here. He's just not making any mistakes.
Parko could have taken a shot at him today, but had trouble finding decent waves in the weak windswell and lost to Emslie. Now his shot at the title is virtually nil. It's "maybe next year" for him yet again. But Brooko and Emslie, rated 34 and 35 coming into this event, it's party time. They're two of the nicest guys in surfing and they've posted the best results of their lives. Emslie's 2nd is the best placing from a South African in a CT since the Potter-era. "I got about 400 SMS messages from home," he said. And Brooks, now sitting in 28th, can look to keep his roll going in Spain and Brazil and dream of a time where he doesn't have to both tours – as he's done for the last five years. "This just moves me on the borderline," he said. "At this moment I shouldn't be in this spot as it is, but with this little roll, as long as I keep going, I should be all right."
It's a cold night now in France, but all the Aussies are feeling warm and fuzzy inside. The eight-year title drought is almost over. The crown's going down under.
Mick was pedal to the metal the whole event
COMPLETE SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
(1st advances to Final; 2nd finishes =3rd)
Heat # 1: Greg Emslie def. Joel Parkinson
Heat # 2: Mick Fanning def. Troy Brooks
Quiksilver Pro France Final:
(1st wins $US 30,000; 2nd wins $US 16,000)
Mick Fanning def. Greg Emslie