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Mick Fanning wins in Tahiti, leads title race

Here we are at the halfway mark in this year’s World Tour, and two best friends have just separated themselves from the pack. Before Tahiti began, the top ten were quite bunched up at the head of the ratings sheet. Then there was an early exit from Kelly Slater, and he opened the door for someone to take a commanding lead. As the final day at Teahupoo unfolded in epic fashion with perfect 6- to 8-foot blue barrels, Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning were the two men left standing in the final.

This final was nothing short of riveting, with both Aussies trading the lead and massive barrels throughout the 35-minute affair. In the end it was Mick who would nail a 9.5 in the dying minutes to take the lead for good.

Already the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked surfers going into the event (Kelly was tied with Joel for second), Mick and Joel have now distanced themselves from the scrum. Mick remains out in front with 34,750 points, padding his lead slightly over Joel in second with 31,700. John John Florence also improved his ranking with a semi-final, moving him to No. 3 with 27,450–all with 5 events left.

You may recall the 2009 season, when Mick tested his friendship with Joel by robbing him of his first world title. After an unstoppable start to Parko’s season that year, a mid-season ankle injury was the catalyst to a horrible meltdown in the back half, just as Mick went on an unbelievable tear, barely stealing the crown in the last event at Pipeline.

Now the two Coolangatta kids find themselves in a duel for the title once again.

For the next event, the boys will be dusting off their performance shortboards as the tour heads to Lower Trestles in California for the Hurley Pro starting on Sept. 16.

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI FINAL RESULTS:

1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.87
2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.37

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.93 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 18.10
QF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.14 def. John John Florence (HAW) 15.17

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 19.07 def. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 18.64
QF 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.90 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.60
QF 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.50 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.43
QF 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.17 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 4.17

BILLABONG PRO TAHITI ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 16.17 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.27
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.96 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.70
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.66 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 9.50
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.66 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.64

CURRENT ASP WCT TOP 5 (After Billabong Pro Tahiti)
1. Mick Fanning (AUS) 34,750 pts
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 31,700 pts
3. John John Florence (HAW) 27,450 pts
4. Kelly Slater (USA) 25,450 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 24,950 pts