After an excellent and consistent season, Mick Fanning has claimed his third ASP World Championship Title (WCT) today in pumping conditions at the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. For the second year straight, the world title was decided at the final event of the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour, on the Hawaiian north shore. Kelly Slater had to win Pipe Masters, which he did, to earn the title. However Mick had to lose before the semifinals in order for Kelly to grab his 12th world title and he was too focused on his goal for that to happen.
Conditions were pumping throughout the event and on the final day the swell dropped slightly with solid 10 to 15 foot (three-to-five metre) waves at the infamous Banzai Pipeline. The winds also changed to a trade wind direction setting the stage for the biggest surfing battle of the year. Fanning’s last-minute efforts in both Round 5 against C.J. Hobgood and the Quarterfinals against fellow Australian Yadin Nicol, has earned him this year’s WCT title over an inspired Kelly Slater, who went on to win the event.
“It wasn’t easy,” Fanning said of his morning Round 5 heat, “If you want to win a world title, you have to put it all on the line. I basically got flogged for 28 minutes of that heat before that gem came through. I heard from all the boys whistling on the beach and I knew it was going to be a good one when it came in. I got a roll in off of second reef and it set up for a really good section on first reef. Came through at the right time and that was definitely a magic moment for me.”
Drawing Nicol in the Quarterfinals, Fanning once again found himself at a disadvantage early in the heat with Nicol racking up a number of high scores on his backhand. Needing an excellent score in the final moments of the heat, Fanning dropped into on a second reef set, setting up for a tremendously deep backhand barrel before being spat out into the channel. Mick was rewarded with the 9.70 he needed to win the heat and take the 2013 ASP World Title. With the title coming down to a one wave draw, it’s imperative that the judges get it right; on this occasion, the fact that Fanning had to pull a viscous bottom turn to set himself up for the tube ride was the winning factor.
“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. “I’m sure I gave my wife Karissa and my mum 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.”