Flamboyant Fanning cuts it fine for world hat-trick
GOLD Coast's Mick Fanning showed nerves of steel to win another world crown at Pipeline yesterday.
The 32-year-old joined greats Andy Irons and Tom Curren in winning the title three times and now trails only Kelly Slater (11) and Mark Richards (4) on the all-time list.
But it didn't come easy for the natural footer, who was forced to come from behind in two crucial heats amid three to five metre waves in the final event of the year at Hawaii, which was ultimately won by Slater.
Fanning caught a late wave worth 9.50 to beat American CJ Hobgood 12.00 to 10.50 in round five before catching another late wave in the quarter-finals.
His deep backhand barrel ride of 9.70 helped him overcome compatriot Yadin Nicol 17.03 to 16.90, which sealed the deal and prompted jubilant scenes on the beach. "The world title is something that takes a whole year, but sometimes it can feel like it boils down to the final day and the final heats," Fanning said after adding to his titles in 2007 and 2009.
"I'm sure I gave my wife Karissa and my mum (Liz) enough stress today to last a lifetime. I was never worried myself now that I think of it. I knew what I needed to do and if the opportunity came, I knew I could do it.
"That opportunity came in both heats today. It's an incredible feeling. I've been having fun all year and to clinch on a day like this at Pipeline makes it that much more special."
Fanning bowed out in the semi-final to Hawaii's John John Florence, who claimed his second Triple Crown of Surfing crown after he also recorded consistent results at the other two events in Hawaii. Florence fell to Slater in the final 16.37 to 15.90. Fanning won the world title with 54400 points, including an event win at France, ahead of Slater (54150 points) and Joel Parkinson (48450)
Coolum Beach's Julian Wilson finished sixth overall (40950 points) after making it into the quarter-finals at Pipe, where he was beaten by Florence 16.77 to 13.50. It was Wilson's best season on tour. He was ninth on debut in 2011 and ninth again last year.
In a promising sign for next season, he made the quarter-finals or better in the last six WCT events and finished the year as number one on the world rankings, which includes results from Prime and Star events.
ASP WCT TOP FIVE
M Fanning 54400
K Slater 54150
J Parkinson 48450
J Smith 43150
T Burrow 42900