WHOEVER wins the Quiksilver Pro France, Joel Parkinson will retake the world ratings lead and keep his world title hopes alive.
The 2012 ASP world title is turning into one of the closest on record between the Cooly Boys Mick Fanning and Joel versus King Kelly with Hawaiian rookie, John John Florence, trailing with an outside chance.
There are now three events left with the Rip Curl Pro Portugal next, followed by the O'Neil Coldwater Santa Cruz in November and then the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters in December.
In previous years the world title has been claimed before Hawaii but this year it will go down to the wire, giving Florence some light at the end of a very deep intense tunnel!
Fanning's fall from form started at Trestles against Kelly in the semis, ironically when Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, arrogantly stated Mick could fix Kirra Point after Fanning's opposition to a Cruise Ship Terminal at the Southport Spit.
The world's fastest surfer didn't bother responding to Tate's spat in the media while Mick biographer, Tim Baker, sent the mayor of a copy of Mick's story.
You'd have to think that while Fanning would have kept his focus on his surfing and a third world title shot, Tate's comments over Kirra would have touched a raw nerve and were a low blow especially as the mayor had promised as part of his run for the city's top job that he would find the money to rebuild Big Groyne.
Fanning's early round three exit in France at the hands of sponsored wildcard, Dane Reynolds, is a setback but White Lightning will be fired up with his sponsor's next event on the beachbreaks of Peniche, Portugal.
California's elusive and most uncommitted competitor, Reynolds, is having one of his best runs ever.
Considered to be the world's best free surf who has the luxury of just surfing for a living, Great Dane, at 27, caused the biggest upset of the event by eliminating current ASP WCT No 1 Fanning ,in round 3..
"That was a tough heat," Reynolds said.
"I was nervous before the heat coming up against Mick in kind of tense conditions. The peaks are all over the place and unfortunately for Mick he was out of rhythm and broke his board.
"It's not easy out there. There's obviously not pressure on myself to get a result here like Mick, but I still want to perform and surf well."
Despite the at-times trying conditions, Reynolds secured the fourth perfect 10 of the event for an incredible free-fall drop on his forehand, navigating through several critical sections and exiting to the raucous applause of thousands on the beach.
La Graviere beachbreaks at Hossegor are some of the hardest, most powerful in the world, similar to South Straddie with an intensity of breaking so close to the shore but when it's overhead, its life threatening as witnessed by Jeremy Flores who had a two wave hold down.
Slater described the conditions like a 'Mavericks' shorebreak and Hawaii's Florence likened it to a Waimea Bay shorey!
When it came down the crunch, Parko and Slater, who had to battle through round 5, had collected 10 point rides in their semis.
Slater's exemplary form in the quarters against Kieren Perrow who had pushed the King into round 5, was nothing short of absolute brilliance, posting 19.93 out of 20 with a 10 and a 9.93 and dropping a 9.2 and 8.50.
The semi-final battle against Joel is so critical towards the world title for both contenders.
They are matched on exchanges with Kelly winning over Joel in their last final at Trestles.
Slater has never won the Quiksilver Pro France - the one event that has eluded the champ with 50 WCT victories at the tender age of 40.
While Dane Reynolds is yet to win a World Championship Tour event, of course everything will be revealed overnight.
One thing I did notice on the webcast was Kelly making faces at Joel's daughter Macy who just stared back at the King with a look of 'don't bother me Kelly, daddy's gonna get you'.
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