SEIGNOSSE, France (Sunday, September 27, 2009) - Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, has just claimed his second consecutive ASP Dream Tour event, taking out the 2009 Quiksilver Pro France presented by Orange over fellow Finalist Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, in punchy one-to-three foot (0.5 - 1 metre) waves at Les Bourdaines.
Event No. 7 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro France opted to utilize today's swell to complete the event given the dismal surf forecast for the remainder of the waiting period. Despite today's challenging conditions, the world's best surfers executed well, blending their rapid-fire approach with progressive fin-free and aerial surfing.
Fanning continued to build momentum through the final day of competition before erupting in the Final with a flurry of excellent scoring rides, a 7.83, an 8.83 and a 7.33 in the opening half of the competition.
"I was really fortunate to get those couple of good ones at the start because I really ran out of gas there at the end," Fanning said. "It's two back-to-back events where I have had to surf four heats on the final day to get the win and it takes a lot out of you. The conditions were deteriorating and I was fortunate to get those scores on the board early on."
Today's victory marks the second in a row for Fanning, having proven victorious in Southern California last week. The win further cements Fanning in second position on the 2009 ASP World Tour ratings, cutting the distance between himself and frontrunner Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, from 936 points (pre-France) to a scant 146 points heading into Spain.
"It's back on," Fanning said. "Everyone though Joel (Parkinson) was going to run away with it and it's unfortunate for him that he fell out early, but I've put in a lot of work to get these last two wins and I'm just psyched on heading into the rest of the season."
Durbidge was in excellent form throughout the final day of competition, eliminating a rampaging Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, compatriot Ben Dunn (AUS), 23, and lethal local Patrick Beven (FRA), 31, en route to the Final. Although surfing well, the big Australian couldn't overcome Fanning's speed in the trying conditions.
"I felt good and fit as but I was trying to push my turns too hard on a couple of waves and I was caught in the bump a lot so I guess that's the difference from the other heats today," Durbidge said. "The conditions were a bit bumpier and I couldn't get any clean sections out there. It feels good to be in the Final though, it's the best I've done this year and coming from a 3rd at Trestles, it is petty good."
Durbidge's Runner-Up finish rockets him from 7th to 4th on the 2009 ASP World Tour ratings, placing him in solid position heading into the remainder of the year.
"That's good news (ratings jump) but my goal is just to finish the year off good and be in a good position to start next year," Durbidge said. "I would like to finish the year inside the Top 5 for sure so I hope to keep things rolling."
Tiago Pires (PRT), 29, ASP Dream Tour sophomore, halted what many considered to be the juggernaut of the event when he eliminated reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, in the Quarterfinals of the Quiksilver Pro France.
"I'm over the moon right now," Pires said. "Kelly (Slater) is my favorite surfer and I have so much respect for him. I knew I had to wait for the bigger waves to get the scores to beat him. I've had a really tough year, but have been training very hard for this and I'm so happy to get through."
While the Floridian opened up with some fluid-yet-explosive surfing on his backhand to amass a daunting 17.43 out of a possible 20 heat total, it was Pires who would answer back with a 9.57 followed by a 8.13 to take the heat.
"After I put up that first big score, I was still needing another really big one so I knew I had to wait," Pires said. "Kelly (Slater) likes to stay busy and he keeps getting scores all the time, but I still had to wait for a good one. I had been watching all day and I knew there would be sets so when it came, I just put everything I had into it.
Although Pires would eventually down to Fanning in the Semifinals, his Equal 3rd place finish sees him bolt from 33rd to 23rd on the ASP World Tour ratings.
"I couldn't have asked to a better start to these next events in France," Pires said. "I've worked very hard and I am hoping to turn things around during the European leg. I feel comfortable here - it feels like home and I believe I can put up some very good results."
Patrick Beven (FRA), 31, who gained entry into the event through the Moskova Trials, had a banner run at the Quiksilver Pro France, eliminating current ASP World No. 1, Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, as well as ASP Dream Tour stalwarts Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, and Bobby Martinez (USA), 27, before falling to Durbidge in the Semifinals. "Bede (Durbidge) is a great surfer and he pushed me in a couple of average waves," Beven said. "I was feeling really tired in that heat, I didn't eat today and focused so hard on each of my heats. I was a bit confused out in the line-up and I didn't catch the good ones. I was a little stressed halfway the heat and I didn't surf as good as in my previous heats."
Supported by thousands of spectators throughout the final day of competition, the giant-killer Beven put on a show using smart heat tactics and razor-sharp backhand turns to prove a standout in the Les Bourdaines beach beaks.
"The crowds pushed big time in that event," Beven said. "They were behind me and it felt so good when the crowds cheered after my waves. It is a big part of my result today and I hope I can keep that confidence for the next events on the ASP WQS. I am stoked to get the chance to show my surf and beat some of the world's best surfers. That run today is pretty unbelievable."
The hunt for the 2009 ASP World Title has become even more interesting with the early elimination of frontrunner Parkinson and the win from Fanning. They'll battle other top seeds C.J. Hobgood (USA), 30, Durbidge and Slater as the ASP Dream Tour continues the European leg.
Tomorrow, Monday 28th, the Quiksilver King of the Groms, international final will take place at 11am at La plage des Bourdaines, in Seignosse. The 16 international qualifiers will have the honour of surfing the same waves as their illustrious counterparts in the Top 44 did this last 5 days. Last year, the winner of the grand final, Maxime Huscenot (Fra), was crowned King of the Groms 2008 at the surf spot of Estagnots, Seignosse. For the 2009 edition, his worthy successor will receive a wildcard to take part in the trials for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast 2010 and the Quiksilver Pro France.
**QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.66
2 - Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.87
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.76 def. Patrick Beven (FRA) 12.90
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.43 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.33
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.70 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 13.60
QF 2: Patrick Beven (FRA) 14.86 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.00
QF 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 17.70 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 17.43
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.00 Taj Burrow def. (AUS) 12.33
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.33 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.40
Heat 2: Ben Dunn (AUS) 13.83 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.37
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) 11.43 vs. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.30
Heat 4: Patrick Beven (FRA) 14.10 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.67
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.23 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.33
Heat 6: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.83 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 9.36
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.40 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.00
Heat 8: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.74 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.40
CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10 (After Quiksilver Pro France):
1 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5896 points
2 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 5750 points
3 - C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4872 points
4 - Bede Durbidge (AUS) 4792 points
5 - Kelly Slater (USA) 4638 points
6 - Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4573 points
7 - Taj Burrow (AUS) 4417 points
8 - Damien Hobgood (USA) 4384 points
9 - Bobby Martinez (USA) 4314 points
10 - Taylor Knox (USA) 4216 points**