A resurgent Sally Fitzgibbons denied close friend Tyler Wright the world surfing tour lead with a stunning performance to win the Roxy Pro France at Le Penon Beach in Hossegor on Wednesday night.
The Gerroa star found some of the form that had made her a household name, and one of the best competitors on tour, to beat Wright, formerly of Culburra Beach, in the final.
Wright is now on 54,500 points, 200 behind Hawaiian Carissa Moore, with Fitzgibbons holding a mathematical hope of a maiden world crown after she moved into third place.
The 17.67-17 victory was Fitzgibbons's first event win this season and came on the back of the three of the highest wave scores of the event, including a perfect 10 in the quarters.
"I'm so stoked. It's been a long road this year and I wanted to finish strong," Fitzgibbons said.
"In that final we switched peaks. I was just sorting things out when she got that 10 and I couldn't hear anything after that.
"I got that last good one and I was hoping it would be enough. It's the most amazing feeling, I've got my brother and my dad here and all my family watching online, they've been there for me every step of the way."
Fitzgibbons led for most of the final before Wright caught an inside right-hander for a perfect 10 ride.
Fitzgibbons, however, paddled on to one last wave and held on for the win.
"It was a tricky situation, I had priority and a sneaky right came in. I was looking for the lefts," she said.
"She went for it and really stepped it up. I saw her do that little air out the back and I thought 'game on I've got to do something big now'. Patience and perseverance and just keeping your head down, I kept going and I'm just so happy."
Wright's third runner-up finish of the year consolidated her second place in world rankings behind Moore, setting up an exciting finish for the final event in Portugal next week.