DESPITE Kelly Slater taking out his 51st WCT victory at La Graviere for the Quiksilver Pro France, Coolangatta's Joel Parkinson has retaken the lead on the world ratings albeit narrowly from Kelly Slater now in second and Mick Fanning who was the leader was relegated back to third.
The 2012 ASP world title is turning into one of the closest on record between the Cooly Boys versus King Kelly with Hawaiian rookie John John Florence trailing with an outside chance.
There are now three events left with the Rip Curl Pro Portugal next, followed by O'Neil Coldwater Santa Cruz in November and then the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters in December.
In previous years the world title has been claimed before Hawaii but this year it will go down to the wire giving Florence some light at the end of a deep intense tunnel.
Fanning's fall from the No.1 spot began at Trestles against Kelly in the semis ironically when Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate arrogantly stated Mick could fix Kirra Point after Fanning's opposition to a Cruise Ship Terminal at the Southport Spit.
The world's fastest surfer didn't bother responding to Tate's spat while Mick biographer Tim Baker sent the mayor of a copy of Mick's story.
You'd have to think that while Fanning would have kept his focus on his surfing and a third world title shot, Tate's comments over Kirra would have touched a raw nerve and were a low blow especially as the mayor had promised as part of his run for the city's top job that he would find the money to rebuild Big Groyne.
Fanning's early round three exit in France at the hands of sponsored wildcard Dane Reynolds is a setback but White Lightning will be fired up with his sponsor's next event on the beach breaks of Peniche, Portugal.
California's illusive and most uncommitted competitor Reynolds had a huge run at Hossegor finishing runner-up to Slater.
Considered to be the world's best free surfer who has the luxury of just surfing for a living, the 27-year-old super freak confirmed that he will be a starter at Snapper Rocks for next year's World Tour Opener, the Quiksilver Pro in March.
Right now the ASP World Tour is in transit from the South of France to the sand-bottom barrels of Peniche for the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Portugal to be held at Supertubos from October 10-21.
It's stop No.8 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Rip Curl Pro Portugal will culminate the Dream Tour's European leg and play a vital role in the determination of the 2012 ASP World Champion.
Parko is in need of a win and Mick needs to finish strongly while they will be hoping Slater suffers a bad result.
The world title is taken from the best 8 out of 10 results and while Parko leads on the total points when you cross out the worst two results, Kelly Slater is in the box seat and to win a 12th World title he can't afford to lose in the next three events.
Parko remains guarded when discussing how the 2012 ASP World Title race will ultimately play out.
"Mick (Fanning) had the No.1 position for most of the season but it's so tight at the top this year that anything can happen from event to event," Parkinson said.
"I've had three runner-up finishes this year from Brazil, Tahiti and Trestles so I'm focused on a win in Portugal. It's a great wave and I'm pumped to be heading back there."
Slater has been in devastating form lately, claiming back-to-back wins in California and Southwest France heading into the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
"When you start working the numbers a little bit, I got that 500 pointer and a 13th, two bad results, already," Slater said.
"Parko (Joel Parkinson) is sitting on a 9th and a 5th. If I couldn't get past Parko in France, it would have put a lot of pressure on me, but this (winning Quiksilver Pro France) has now put the pressure back on Mick (Fanning) because Parko, John John (Florence) and I did well at the first European leg stop."
"When it's on, Supertubos at Peniche is one of the funest waves in the world," Slater said.
"Last year's event had three perfect days of barrels so hopefully we can get similar conditions this year."
One thing I did notice on the webcast was Kelly making faces at Joel's daughter Macy who just stared back at the King with a look of don't bother me Kelly, Daddy's gonna get you.
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