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Mick Fanning wins Rip Curl Pro Search, closes in on world surfing title

Mick Fanning celebrates his triumph at the Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal.

Australia's Mick Fanning has claimed the Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal to continue his blaze through the ASP World Tour homestretch and widen his lead in the race for the world title.

Fanning, 28, who won the title in 2007, defeated fellow Australian Bede Durbidge in the final in two-  to three-foot surf at Supertubos to win the ninth of 10 World Tour competitions. Fanning has now won three of the last four contests. The grand finale is in December at fabled Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore.

“Yesterday was one of the best days of competition I’ve ever seen and we all showed up today and had to adjust our frame of mind to deal with the drop in size and quality,” Fanning said, in reference to the six- to eight-foot barrels that pitched over the reef on Tuesday. “I’ve been surfing conditions like this all summer at home so I knew what I had to do out there. I was able to pick off a couple of good scores at the start and then I basically had to sit on Bede so he didn’t get any back on me.”

With conditions deteriorating, Fanning lacerated the punchy wedges on his forehand to net a solid 6.67 and a 6.00 that would prove insurmountable in the best-two-scores format.

The race for the world title is now officially a two-man competition between Fanning and Joel Parkinson, who finished an equal third at Supertubos.

Parkinson, who won three of the first five World Tour competitions and seemed a lock to claim his first world title, now needs a strong finish at Pipeline and a poor finish by Fanning to win the championship. Fanning can clinch the title with a second-place finish at Pipeline, even if Parkinson wins the contest.

“I am a little bit disappointed but overall I am pretty happy,” said Parkinson, who lost to Durbidge in their semifinal. “Third still keeps me up there and in contention for the title. I’m a little bit disappointed in myself, I made one error that changed the whole heat and they are the little things that you find hard sleeping on."

The only thing in Parkinson's favor is that he is the defending Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion. The Pipeline competition is the last jewel of that prestigious series, which gets underway Nov. 12 at Haleiwa.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Mick Fanning celebrates his triumph at the Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal. Credit: © ASP/ CI/ SCHOLTZ via Getty Images

 
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