Mick Wins Portugal 2014

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posted by James Willmott

Mick Fanning has taken out the 2014 Moche Rip Curl Pro in Peniche, Portugal in an epic final day of competition. Fanning overcame South Africa’s Jordy Smith in the final round, taking out stop 10 of the world tour and creeping one step closer to defending his world title. The win moves Fanning up the ladder to 2nd place behind Gabriel Medina, and makes for an amazing last event in December at Pipeline.

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The final day saw Supertubos produce 4-6 foot chunky conditions for the remaining surfers. Starting with the remaining heats of Round 3, the day began full of excitement and anticipation on who would be crowned champion at the end of the day and European leg of the WCT.  After the early Round 3 exits from both Gabriel Medina and Kelly Slater, the win was up for anyone, though eyes seemly were focused on Fanning and John John Florence. The Quarterfinals saw Aussie Adam Melling go down to John John, Jordy Smith send Adrianno de Souza packing, Kai Otton defeat Josh Kerr and Mick Fanning overcome Filipe Toledo in the prevailing clean, pumping conditions.

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Semi Final 1 saw a rematch of the Hurley Trestles Pro with Jordy Smith and John John Florence meeting once again. A crucial heat for Florence to stay in World Title contention, the Hawaiian simply could not hold it together as Jordy struck with 2 solid 8 point rides.

I’m bummed, but I’ve had a good run for these last few events,” said Florence. “I was just out of position the whole time, and Jordy got the good ones. Congratulations to him.” Still he said, a Title spoiler isn’t out of the question: “I want to win Pipe, no matter what.”

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Mick Fanning battled fellow countryman Kai Otton in Semi Final 2 for a spot in the Final. Throwing together a collaborated score of 13.17, Fanning took barrel riding to the next level. Unfortunetely for Otton, this was not the case as he struggled to put two and two together against the reigning world champ. “I felt like very wave had a bump on it, and I just got bumped off,” said Kai.

Then, through one blink it was Final time. Mick Fanning, the reigning world champ, up against Trestles winner Jordy Smith, this was not one to miss. Exploding first was Mick, getting a nice barrel for a quick start and a score of 5.67. He then followed with a wave Jordy chose to not take, and this wave may have cost Smith the contest. Fanning scooped and sat high in the barrel, finishing with a combination of well executed turns for a 9.00. Smith then struck, pulling in and getting a deep barrel and following up with a huge hack of the top for a 7.67. After both surfers sat patiently and waited for another good wave, the final three minutes produced another for Fanning. He locked in again, this time for 6.50, breaking away from Jordy and proving enough to take the 2014 Moche Rip Curl Pro Peniche. It’s Fanning’s first win at the Potuguese contest since 2009, and with Slater and Medina’s early exits, a shot to take home the World Title once again is in sight. “I’m just stoked to get a win,” Fanning said. “It’s been about five years since I got a win here.”

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So what does this now mean for this year’s world title? Let’s get technical here. It’s now between Gabriel Medina, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning. For Medina to become the first ever Brazilian World Champion, he needs to either win, or place runner up at Pipe. If Gabs comes in at either 3rd or 5th, Fanning will need to win the event to take Slater’s hopes of 12th World Title away. Kelly has to hope Gabriel and Mick get knocked early and then go on to win the event. No pressure, right? Whatever the result may be, it’s going to make for an epic final showdown event for 2014.

*All photos by ASP