A Summary of Mick Fanning’s Brilliant Career
We take a look at the highs and lows of Mick Fanning and his career riding the waves.
Early in 2018, surfing legend Mick Fanning announced he would be retiring from the World Tour circuit at the ripe old age of 36. We take a look at the highs and lows of his career riding the waves.
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It’s time. I’ve decided the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be my last event as a full-time competitor on the World Surf League Championship Tour. The tour has given me so much but I need a fresh challenge. I still love the game but can’t find the motivation and dedication required to compete for World Titles anymore. My time on tour has been incredibly rewarding and I have so many amazing memories, all of which wouldn’t be possible without some very special people... My Mum, Dad, Sister and Brothers. I love you. My sponsors that have stood by me and continue to back my goals. My shaper Darren Handley and his entire team for the care and hard work they put into every single one of my boards. My fellow competitors on tour, you are like brothers and sisters to me. My very tight support crew that have been there in good and tough times, thank you for always being honest with me. And thanks to the fans and everyone that has encouraged me and cheered me on for all these years. I’m looking forward to life away from the tour while keeping a close eye on things. I’m so proud of our sport and the way it continues to evolve. The performance level on the Championship Tour and the Big Wave Tour is remarkable. I can’t wait to watch it all go down as one of the sport’s biggest fans. I’m also looking forward to evolving my own surfing in new ways, visiting unfamiliar places and taking on different experiences. I will be competing at the opening event at home on the Gold Coast and then wrapping things up at the Rip Curl Pro. Bells Beach is where my Championship Tour career really kicked off, I’ve always loved the place and it seems a fitting stop to finish things up. It’s gonna be a big fun party and you’re all invited to come. Hope I see you there. Cheers and thanks for the memories. Mick @ripcurl_aus @redbullau @reef @dhdsurf @dragonalliance @creaturesofleisure @vertra @fcs_surf @skullcandy @mercedesbenzvans_au @opkix @grapes @mfsoftboards @balterbrewers
Growing up by the beaches of Tweed Heads, Fanning was destined to become a surfing great, and credits the competitiveness he had with his three older brothers for spurring him into the sport. As a kid, Fanning competed in pro-junior events and shared the goal of becoming World Champion with his brother Sean. Tragically, Sean passed away in a car-accident at the age of 20.
After a wildcard entry into the 2001 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Fanning surfed against his hero Danny Wills to win the event and launch himself into a successful pro-surfing career.
He won the Billabong Pro in 2002, which saw him crowned Rookie of the Year and earned him a spot in the World Qualifying Series. Later that year, he surfed against greats like Andy Irons, Mark Occhilupo and Kelly Slater for the first time, finishing fifth in his first competitive season. He then one upped himself the following year with a fourth placed finish.
In 2004, Fanning badly damaged his hamstring, but soon found a new determination during months of gruelling rehab. He was soon crowned with his first World Title on his comeback tour in 2007, and dedicated the win to his brother Sean.
Two years later, he competed against his childhood mate Joel Parkinson to win his second World Title, and by the time the 2013 season rolled around, he was finally able to relax and enjoy himself more than ever before... and won his third World Title.
But it’s not just his surfing that he’s known for, as Fanning made international headlines in 2015 after punching a shark that surfaced next to him during a heat. At the time he said “I'm happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, to walk away from that, I'm just so stoked”.
Later that season, he was close to winning his fourth title, but found out that his brother Pete had passed away, prior to the final round. Fanning bravely continued on with the heat against surfing legend Kelly Slater and John “John” Florence, and expressed that this heat was the pinnacle of his career, “Today was one of the most challenging days of my life but I knew I could find the strength to take part in the final event of the season because that's what Pete would want”. Fanning won the heat but finished in second place for the World Title behind Adrian De Souza.
He considered throwing in the towel in 2016, but competed in a few events to keep his foot in the door. He re-joined the tour full-time in 2017 but realised he wasn’t feeling the competitiveness of the past.
17 years after his wildcard debut, it was fitting that Fanning surfed his last event at the 2018 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. He was poised for a fairy-tale ending, waiting for the perfect wave to seal his career’s end in the final heat.
Unfortunately, the wave he was waiting for never came, and Italo Ferreira took out his first Pro Tour win. Despite finishing second, Fanning was carried by the crowd in celebration of his epic career.
"I've learnt so much and I walk away with so many great memories, not only in the surf but on land and travelling with people, so thank you,". During his career he won three World Titles and was crowned Australian Male Surfer of the Year six times.
His Mother, Elizabeth, says that Mick is “a true champion in the sense of being a good human being and I'm just very happy that he followed his dream.”
We couldn’t agree with you more Elizabeth!
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