Mick Fanning joins the ‘Four Bells’ club
After clean and jerking his fourth Bell over his head, Mick Fanning had little time for any of the critics who dismiss Bells as a burger un-warranting inclusion on the WSL tour. “Keep bagging it, I love it!” he told Tracks, grinning through beer-stained eyes and a face covered in traditional Aboriginal paint. If other surfers don’t get excited by Bells’ rolling crumblers, Mick will happily capitalize on their indifference. As his coach, Phil McNamara, indicated matter-of-factly earlier in the week, “Few surfers know how to ride this wave as well as Mick.” Yes, we saw Filipe fly again and secure the highest heat score of the event, but in the quarter- final against Nat Young, Filipe’s daring jumps couldn’t distinguish him from Nat’s top-to-bottom approach.
Meanwhile, Mick’s formula at Bells is simple. Superior wave selection coupled with unrivalled precision for the placement of turns. Then change the angle of approach and throw in a hint of variation to keep the judges entertained. Although the Bells walls are often described as a big blank canvas, frequently the bullseye section for optimal scoring is quite small and Mick hits it almost every time.
Adriano’s full throttle lip tackles and long-lunch wraps were a potent formula but ultimately Mick’s surfing had a touch of class and finesse that Adriano’s didn’t.
Mick is now in equal first position with Toledo for the title race. Although it’s early days, it’s significant that last year’s one and two (Kelly and Medina) are yet to go beyond the quarters. That gives Mick an opportunity to stride way out in front. He will definitely look to claim the outright first position before Phil Toledo heads home to Brazil.
Defining Moment- Mick Going Backwards
It’s midway through the final, and despite holding down the highest single wave score, Mick Fanning is trailing Adriano De Souza and requires a 6.8 to claim the lead. Swooping on a smaller wave he completes two regulation check turns and realises that something more dramatic will be required on the next section if the wave is to factor in the final equation. Mick lines up the lip and uncoils like a striking cobra, before releasing the tail and riding backwards for several metres, correcting and continuing on. The little bit extra offered by the turn proves crucial and Mick locks in a 7.1. It’s enough to secure the lead and ensure Adriano’s proceeding 7.77 draws him level ras opposed to projecting him into the lead. The turn is a masterstroke because it was distinctly different from anything else Mick had done on finals day and in the end the additional risk associated with it proved crucial.
What They Said
“Well I think Mick and Jordy Smith just about saved the event.” Rip Curl founder, Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick exiting his VIP booth mid-way through Mick and Jordy’s explosive quarterfinal.
“Mick Fanning’s warm up is like a boxer. When he ran past me to surf his heat he looked like he wanted to punch somebody.“ Ring announcer, Todd Kline, ducking and weaving as Mick Fanning made his way out for his quarter-final.
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