With just two events left in the 2015 men's Championship Tour season, the race for the World Title is only getting more intense. Two surfers -- World No. 2 Adriano de Souza (BRA) and World No. 1 Mick Fanning (AUS) -- are the closest to winning the surf world's biggest prize. Just ahead of the penultimate event, the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal, they have just one thing in mind.
"I look at it as another two weeks of work," Fanning said. "Some days you want to sleep in. [But] it's time to put the head down. You can either celebrate or commiserate come the end of the year."
De Souza, who is just 450 points behind Fanning on the Jeep rankings, is also under no illusions about what has to happen in Portugal if he wants to win his first-ever World Title. "I need to work pretty hard to catch Mick," he said. "He's sitting on a comfortable seat at this stage. The rest of the guys need to work really hard to get there, and I'm one of those guys. So the only choice I have is to work hard, and put my head down."
But don't expect any big surprises when he and Fanning paddle out in Peniche. Fanning won the Moche Rip Curl Pro in 2014 and with the Title within reach, thinks this is no time to switch up a winning formula. "People always think about, you've got to do something extra. But you get to this position doing what you know is right. For me it's about being comfortable with myself and it's a matter of making sure everything's switched on, and zeroing in on myself."
Both surfers are arriving in Portugal mere days after things wrapped up at the Quiksilver Pro France, where they both lost to fellow countrymen on Tour. De Souza made it as far as the Semifinals, but was eliminated there by reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA). Medina went on to win the event.
Fanning, meanwhile, was defeated in the Quarterfinals by fellow Aussie Bede Durbidge (AUS). Durbidge finished runner-up in France (just behind Medina) and said at the time that despite a close friendship with Fanning he had his own goals, which include making the Top 10 again on the Championship Tour.
For Fanning's part, after a tough time in France, he's ready to throw everything he's got at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Not only that, but he hasn't even deleted Durbidge from Facebook.
"Bede's one of my best friends," he said. "If I was in his position [in a heat against him], I'd do the same thing. If you're going to win a world title, you've got to win. Your mate's not going to roll over for you.
"Sometimes it sucks going up against your best mates, but that's our sport, and I wouldn't trade my friends or family on this Tour for anything."
Catch Fanning, De Souza, Durbidge and the rest of the Top 34 -- plus some heavyweight wildcards and replacement surfers -- battle at the Moche Rip Curl Pro live daily on the WSL website and WSL App starting Tuesday, October 20 local time.