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Mick Fanning Claims 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search, Solidifies Lead in ASP Title Race

October 28th, 2009

Pictured: Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 1, has taken out the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search, cementing his lead in the hunt for the 2009 ASP World Title. Credit: © ASP/ CI/ SCHOLTZ via GETTY IMAGES

SUPERTUBOS, Peniche/Portugal (Wednesday, October 28, 2009) – Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, former ASP World Champion (2007) and current ASP World No. 1, has claimed the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search at Supertubos in Portugal, defeating fellow finalist Bede Durbidge (AUS), 26, and cementing his lead in the now two-horse race for the 2009 ASP World Title.

Event No. 9 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search ran a gamut of conditions and venues ranging from two-foot righthand wedges at Molhe Leste, four-foot offshore lefthanders at Lagido, punchy four-foot peaks at Belgas and death-defying six-to-eight foot barrels at Supertubos yesterday before culminating in a dramatic end to competition.

Jordy Smith (Durban), 21, fared best of the three South Africans in the event, placing fifth overall and climbing to No.10 on the rankings after narrowly losing out to eventual runner-up Bede Durbidge (AUS) in their quarterfinal match-up. Greg Emslie (East London) was eliminated by Damien Hobgood (USA) in Round 2 for a 17th place finish that sees him stay ranked No. 31, while David Weare (Durban) suffered a Round 1 defeat that has him going into the last event of the year at Pipeline in Hawaii in December ranked No. 41

Fanning, who won the inaugural Rip Curl Pro Search at Reunion Island (2005) and was a standout in yesterday’s massive barrels, readjusted to today’s smaller conditions and was dominant in his Final against Durbidge. With conditions deteriorating, Fanning lacerated the punchy wedges on his forehand to net a solid 6.67 and a 6.00 that would prove unbeatable for his opponent.

“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. “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 (Durbidge) so he didn’t get any back on me.”

The Rip Curl Pro Search narrowed down the field of potential contenders for the 2009 ASP World Title from 10 to two throughout the course of the event, with the final event of the year at the Banzai Pipeline playing the decider.

“That’s what you always dream of as a kid (competing for an ASP World Title at Pipeline),” Fanning said. “I’m super pumped. I’m going to go home and relax for a couple of weeks and get ready for Pipe. Hopefully we get some big barrels like we did here and we have a real showdown.”

Durbidge, who now moves to ASP World No. 4 heading into the final event of the season, was a standout throughout the Rip Curl Pro Search, likening the conditions to his home break of North Stradbroke Island on Australia’s Gold Coast. The well-built natural-footer secured an impressive come-from-behind win in his Semifinal today before being stopped by Fanning in the Final.

“Definitely the top guys of the event were in the top four,” Durbidge said. “It was unfortunate that Owen (Wright) couldn’t be in his Semifinal. Mick (Fanning) has been in incredible form the past eight weeks and he’s on fire. The 10 that Joel (Parkinson) got yesterday was phenomenal, and in our heat this morning, he had me on the ropes until the end.”

The Runner-Up finish marks Durbidge’s second of the season (collecting his first in France), and is a welcome change in momentum from a tough start to 2009. A former winner at the Billabong Pipeline Masters (2007) as well as a former Vans Triple Crown Champion (2007), Durbidge will look to finish the year strong in Hawaii.

Owen Wright (AUS), 19, wildcard into the Rip Curl Pro Search and current No. 3 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), was a standout in Portugal, eliminating 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 24, nine-time ASP World Champion, Kelly Slater (USA), 37, Californian new school leader Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, and current ASP World No. 9 Damien Hobgood (USA), 30, en route to his Semifinals berth against Fanning.

However, tragedy struck during his Quarterfinal win over Hobgood yesterday as the phenomenal goofy-footer suffered a horrific wipeout, rupturing his eardrum and injuring his neck. Although prepared to don a helmet this morning and take on the current ASP World No. 1, event physicians instructed the young Australian against competing.

”I had the injury checked out last night – there’s no real bone or structural damage,” Wright said. “I just feel it through the neck, shoulder, knee and my ear is a bit messed up. We did some tests this morning and we all decided it was better off me not competing as I don’t really have much range in my neck movement. But, it’s all good – it is all fixable. I will be getting worked on twice a day and I will take a bit of time to relax. I will still go to Hawaii and hopefully get some barrels. I love it there so hopefully we get a good season.”

Parkinson, who experienced what many considered to be an unbeatable start to the 2009 ASP Dream Tour season, witnessed his stranglehold on the ratings chipped away at following three, consecutive equal 17ths sustained in California, France and Spain. Despite missing out on a Final’s berth, Parkinson’s equal 3rd place finish is a welcome return to form.

“I am a little bit disappointed but overall I am pretty happy,” Parkinson said. “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 2009 ASP World Title has now become a two-horse race between Fanning and Parkinson and will conclude at the final event of the season, the Billabong Pipeline Masters. The scenarios for the 2009 ASP World Title are as follows:

– Fanning finishes 33rd through a 9th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 3rd or better to overtake.
– Fanning finishes 5th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 2nd or better to overtake.
– Fanning finishes 3rd at Pipeline, Parkinson needs win the event to overtake.
– Fanning finishes 2nd or better at Pipeline, he will clinch the 2009 ASP World Title.

Although the men’s event has concluded, the ASP Top 17 women will have their crack at the many waves of Portugal for the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Search, event No. 4 of 7 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, which will commence this afternoon.

Surfline, official forecasters for the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search, are calling for the current surf to drop slightly over the next 24 hours before another swell is expected to hit the region.

Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Search are available via http://live.ripcurl.com

Rip Curl Pro Search online media center is available at http://www.box.net/shared/o3avphdb6z

The Rip Curl Pro Search is partnered regionally by RTP, Eurosport, Fuel TV and ESPN Brazil, who will all be broadcasting live from Peniche throughout the event. For more information on these live television broadcasts, please visit http://live.ripcurl.com.

The next and final stop on the 2009 ASP World Tour will be the Billabong Pipeline Masters running on the North Shore of Hawaii from December 8 – 20, 2009.

For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH FINAL RESULTS:

1 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.67
2 – Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.87

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SEMIFINAL RESULTS:

SF 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.60 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.27
SF 2: Wright Withdraws Due to Injury, Fanning Advances

CURRENT ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 10 (Following Rip Curl Pro Search):

1 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 7140 points
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6772 points
3 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6148 points
4 – Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6146 points
5 – C.J. Hobgood (USA) 5748 points
6 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 5524 points
7 – Kelly Slater (USA) 5514 points
8 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 5421 points
9 – Damien Hobgood (USA) 5116 points
10 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 4828 points

Ends

Issued on behalf of: 

ASP Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: aspafrica@mweb.co.za

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