AN OFF DUTY MICK FANNING VISITS SHIPSTERN BLUFF : BY BEN BUGDEN
Teahupoo didn't deliver for three-time world champ Mick Fanning, in either wave quality or result. After his shock round 3 loss to Aritz Aranburu, he decided to jump on an early flight home. Roughly eight hours later, Mick arrived back in his hometown of Coolangatta with an unusually clear schedule, small waves and a lot of unused Tahitian adrenaline onboard.
That's when his phone rang. On the other end of the line was good friend and Maroubra madman Mark Mathews, who'd seen something stirring in the Southern Ocean off Tasmania and was enquiring if Mick wanted to join him to chase a piece of it.
"I was just hanging at home after getting knocked early in Tahiti," explains Mick. "I've talked with Mark in the past about chasing a swell down to Tassie, but the timing just hadn't worked out. He hit me up when he saw this swell and conditions lining up for Shippies. I had nothing better on, so I pulled together some gear and got down there."
Even though Mick is one of the greatest surfers to ever put foot to fibreglass, it's still somewhat unusual to see him deep in the tube at one of Australia's heaviest and dangerous waves. This is especially true when you consider he is still right in the mix for the 2015 world title. Would the usually ultra determined and focused Fanning be willing to risk injuring himself and bowing out of the race?
"I've never let a title race stop me from getting into some good waves or swell," he states, putting that theory to bed quickly. "I just haven't had a clear schedule like that before, which has allowed a trip to a place like Shippies. I don't think any world champ has completely written off scoring good, big waves to avoid injury. Surfers just don't tick like that."
One more question has to be asked of Mick. After his shark incident has he now turned into a full-blown adrenaline junkie?
"Hahaha, not at all! I really enjoyed it though. It was good finding a new buzz and challenge away from heat surfing. I'm definitely psyched for more."