Mick's on the attack
IN a dramatic day at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti yesterday, Tweed Heads' Mick Fanning looks favoured to take the lead in the ASP world tour after Coolangatta's Joel Parkinson, the current tour leader, was knocked out in the third round.
While Parkinson's elimination was sensational, it took back stage to speculation that nine-times world surfing champion Kelly Slater will consider giving up on his title defence after crashing out in the second round at Teahupoo.
Slater blamed outside distractions after his shock loss to little-known Spaniard Aritz Aranburu, which left the American languishing near the foot of the ratings after three straight 17th-place finishes.
While Slater is desperate to add a 10th world title to his resume, the 37-year-old admits he may have to put that dream on ice until next year.
“That might have given me a long vacation. It's really decision time,” Slater said after his Teahupoo campaign came undone at the first hurdle.
“I don't want to just fall off the map (in the title race), but I already have.
“I'm still within the possibility of getting myself into something later in the year, but I have to put something together.
“I've actually got a lot of things on my mind, this year in particular. It's probably been distracting me from just being able to surf.”
Parkinson was knocked out by American Taylor Knox in their round-three heat after Knox inflicted a crushing 15.46 to 5.57 defeat on the winner of the first two tour events.
“I went 16 minutes without catching a wave,” Parkinson said. “Mother nature was a bit of a bitch to me.”
Fanning will face fellow Australian Tom Whitaker for a place in the quarter-finals when competition resumes.
Taj Burrow, Michael Campbell, CJ Hobgood and Knox have already booked their place in the final eight, with four third-round heats still to be completed.