Fanning finds form as Australians dominate Billabong Pro
Mick Fanning put on a sensational display of high risk progressive surfing to win the 2002 Billabong Pro in all-time two metre waves, bright sunshine and a gentle offshore breeze at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay today.
The 21 year-old rookie WCT campaigner from the Gold Coast crushed any hopes his opponent Michael Lowe might have been harbouring of a second successive WCT victory, taking an unbeatable lead in the first 15 minutes of the 30 minute all Australian final.
Fanning finally found the form that took him to his first WCT victory as a wildcard in the Bells Beach event at Easter last year and saw him win the World Qualifying Series (WQS) crown at the end of 2001.
His win put a halt to four successive 17th place finishes in his debut year on the WCT, earning him R300 000 (US $30 0000) and 1200 ratings points that boosted him from 21st to 12th on the world rankings.
“This was exactly what I woke up to this morning,” said the jubilant victor as he danced around the stage holding the winners trophy, depicting a superb Supertubes waves aloft.
“A perfect wave and a perfect day,” he concluded after thanking the sponsors, his fellow competitors and the people of Jeffreys Bay.
Fanning took control of the final from the outset, posting a solid opening score of 7.75 points and then followed that up with powerful turns and a deep barrel ride through the ‘Impossibles’ section for a 9.0.
At the halfway mark he paddled into one of the biggest waves of the day and powered off the bottom into the lip where he successfully completed a ‘reverse 360 re-entry’, spinning through 360 degrees and sliding backwards down the white water before righting himself and powering off down the line and into the back door of a thick double overhead tube from which he emerged cleanly.
The 9.80 score and another 8.90 point ride later in the heat left Lowe needing a combination of two scores for a total of 12.71 points to take the lead, and try as he did, he could not make a dent in the deficit.
However, Lowe’s march to consecutive finals moved him into second place on the latest WCT rating list and the 25 year-old from NSW also pocketed R160 000 (US $16 000).
Fanning’s path to the final came via victory over the selfsame Lowe and Brazilian Guilherme Herdy in round one and then man-on man wins over Damien Hobgood (USA), Kalani Robb (Haw) and before eliminating Daniel Wills (Aus) in their semi-final.
Lowe overcame compatriot Kieren Perrow in their quarterfinal and then advanced to the final on a count back after tying with 1999 even winner Joel Parkinson (Aus) in their semi.
The 19th edition of the Billabong Pro enjoyed outstanding conditions, ranging from icy 2 to 2,5 metre (6 – 8 foot) waves with gale force offshore winds on the opening day to flawless 1.5 to 2 metre (4 – 6 foot) sunshine barrels for the final two days.
Earlier in the day Wills ended South African hopes of a victory in the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay when he overcame a disastrous start to beat Sean Holmes in the quarterfinals.
Holmes posted a perfect 10 point ride to start the heat and then uncharacteristically lost his focus, trying to catch the wrong waves, and managed only to add a 4.65 ride to his opener.
Wills fell on his first two waves and then had two short rides, but came back into contention with a 9.0 and then took the lead with a 6.25 before shutting the door on Holmes with an outstanding 8.60 ride that included a 30 metre tube ride and two powerful gouges off the lip that sent sheets of spray flying.
“I was lucky, I started off with a perfect Supertubes waves that allowed me to score a 10 point ride, but then I kind of lost it, got really nervous and just started paddling around, choosing the wrong waves,” said Holmes who won a wildcard into the R2.5 million event via the Von Zipper trials and ended up the highest placed South African in fifth place overall, earning R80 000 (US $8 000).
Billabong Pro 2002 – Jeffreys Bay
- Mick Fanning (Aus) 27.70 vs Mick Lowe (Aus) 21.60
- SF1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 17.60 vs Daniel Wills (Aus) 15.25
- SF2: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.75 vs Joel Parkinson (Aus) 15.72
- (Tie Break on best one wave)
Results – Quarterfinals
- Q1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.50 vs Taj Burrow (Aus) 12.50
- Q2: Daniel Wills (Aus) 17.60 vs Sean Holmes (SAfr) 14.65
- Q3: Michael Lowe (Aus) 17.35 vs Kieren Perrow (Aus) 15.85
- Q4: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 18.00 vs Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 17.40
- H3: Daniel Wills (Aus) 17.65 vs Lee Winkler (Aus) 8.50
- H4: Sean Holmes (SAfr) 13.75 vs Dean Morrison (Aus) 13.25
- H5: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 19.30 vs Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 13.25
- H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 14.25 vs Pat O’Connell (USA) 13.25
- H7: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 16.05 vs Nathan Hedge (Aus) 15.25
- H8: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 17.0 vs Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 11.75
Current Top 10 Ratings after Billabong Pro
- 1: Andy Irons (Haw) 4,092-points
- 2: Mick Lowe (Aus) 3,600
- 3: Shea Lopez (USA) 3,528
- 4: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 3,444
- =5th Mark Occhilupo (Aus); Danny Wills (Aus) 3,372
- 7: Cory Lopez (USA) 3,276
- 8: Luke Egan (Aus) 3,204
- 9: CJ Hobgood (USA) 3,168
- =10 Taj Burrow (Aus); Kalani Robb (Haw) 3,156