Surf battle set for weekend decider in Hawaii
Mick Fanning's tense world surfing title battle with Kelly Slater at the season-ending Pipe Masters looks set to be decided over the weekend in Hawaii.
ASP officials called a lay day on Wednesday due to "declining swell" at the breaks of Pipeline and Backdoor in the last event on the world tour.
A promising swell is brewing that organisers hope will produce typically huge North Shore waves on the island of Oahu this weekend.
"The surf has dropped and we're expecting the swell to diminish throughout the day," event director Marty Thomas said.
"We're watching a swell that will start to build on Friday and could deliver incredible waves for Saturday."
Regardless, officials will reconvene on Thursday morning at 6.30am local time (3.30am AEDT on Friday) for a possible 8am (5am AEDT) start.
Championship leader Fanning suffered a setback on Tuesday in his quest to win his third world crown and deny Kelly Slater his 12th.
The Australian faltered in his fourth-round match-up against Hawaii's John John Florence and American Nat Young, finishing last and being relegated to a sudden-death round-five clash.
There he'll face American CJ Hobgood - one of the best Pipeline surfers - to secure a quarter-finals berth.
Slater advanced straight to the last eight after outclassing local Sebastian Zietz and Brazilian Miguel Pupo with a late barrel in his round-four heat.
Slater needs to win the season-ending event and have Fanning miss the semi-finals to clinch another title.
The 41-year-old American was joined in the last eight by Florence and Australians Joel Parkinson and Yadin Nicol.
Also in round five, Australians Julian Wilson and Kai Otton face Young and Zietz respectively.