Australian Mick Fanning won a record-equalling fourth Rip Curl Pro title at Bells Beach, edging out Brazilian Adriano de Souza in the final on a tiebreak.
The pair both recorded a two-wave score of 15.27 points, with Fanning claiming the crown on countback due to a higher single-wave score of 8.17. Fanning now moves to the top of the world ratings as he chases a fourth world crown.
“I’m so stoked,” said 33-year-old Fanning, who rang the bell for the first time as a wildcard back in 2001 and also claimed victories here in 2012 and 2014. “It was a really tough one this year. All credit to Adriano to tie – it’s so heartbreaking.”
The Brazilian made the early running in Thursday’s final but Fanning controlled the closing stages of the decider. Fanning and young Brazilian Filipe Toledo sit atop the world rankings after two events with 15,200 points.
Toledo won last month’s season-opening Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast but was upset in the quarter-finals at Bells on Thursday by American Nat Young.
Fanning’s victory drew him level with Australian legend Mark Richards and 11-times world champ Kelly Slater with four Bells titles.
“I’m so honoured to be anywhere near those guys,” said Fanning. “MR for me is the greatest .. he was so classy in the water, so to be there with him is amazing. And with Kelly, what else is there to say about him?”
The women’s Rip Curl Pro title is set to be decided on Friday. Australians Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons are among the quarter-finalists.
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