The world title race will go to Hawaii following Mick Fanning’s loss to Kai Otton in a wave starved quarterfinal in the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Before the heat there was no suggestion that Otton, a fellow Australian and good mate of Fanning, was going to do anything but try to win the heat.
“I’m going to whoop him," Otton said before the quarter. “I don’t care, I want to win an event and that’s all I want. And I helped Mick once. I beat Kelly in Brazil in 2007 and he went on to win his first world title that day, so if anything he owes me one,' he laughed.
In a low scoring heat, where Fanning failed to catch any waves of any real potential, Otton was true to his word, using his priority to sit on Mick for the last two minutes of a very tense final with Fanning needing a score of less than five to take the heat and his third world title
“It was a a bit of a dud heat, it was really sloppy given the world title was on the line," said Kai after the quarter. “I knew what I had to do, and I did it. There was no words spoken, we both know what it takes out there."
For Fanning and his fans it was a cruel blow, but for surfing neutrals it was a good result, with the world title now headed to the Billabong Pro Pipeline. Mick has still increased his substantial lead, but with Kelly Slater still with a real mathematical possibility, and Parko and Jordy in with a chance to win Portugal, the race is still on.