A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE MICK FANNING
WHAT'S FUELLING ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S GREATEST EVER COMPETITIVE SURFERS IN 2015?
Mick Fanning possesses the most refined act on tour. He’s ridiculously talented, mentally unflappable in the water, rides perfect boards shaved to the millimetre, is perpetually well dressed and adorned to his sponsors requirements, handles media like a pro and possesses the rarest gift of all, a ferocious competitive fire that gives him the ability to win … continuously.
It’s because of this that three world title trophies now reside in his home. It’s also the reason many of his peers on tour count Mick as their favourite surfer. He is the epitome of what every surfer with aspirations of reaching the tour wants to be.
However, it’s this refined act, offering little variety, which can lead to boredom. That’s why Mick Fanning in 2015 is a dangerous beast. Having already amassed three world titles there’s no monkey of unfulfilled potential hanging over him and he’s now free to concentrate on one thing … surfing, and most importantly, having fun while doing it.
He’s mastered the art of turning on and off that competitive fire, is experimenting with boards and isn’t losing sleep over that next goal. He’s relaxed and he’s wearing it well.
Although he didn’t get the result he was looking for at the Quik Pro, Mick looked in fine form. Form he carried south to Bells Beach where at the time of writing he had just taken victory – his fourth bell – and now wears the gold jersey heading into Margarets.
Mick has found a different kind of fire to fuel him throughout 2015 and if the start is any indication it’s going to be a big year.
The fire that has taken you to three world titles – does it still burn and how do you keep it lit?
I’m always competitive and around events the flames are there but it’s a different fire these days … it’s a gas fire. I can turn it up when I’m heading into a heat and then flick it off. Back before I won the first title it was like a big bloody bushfire, the title was the goal and it was all I thought about. In 2009 it was a little different, I was more relaxed and then the 2013 title year was great fun. Last year was really enjoyable too.
You’re looking sharper than ever right now, have you added anything new to your preparation or regimen?
My routine hasn’t changed all that much but I think I’m super comfortable doing the tour now. I feel confident at all the stops and because I can control my competitive fire these days it allows me to enjoy the company of my mates on tour and lap up the experience of travelling the world.
What’s exciting you right now?
I’ve been experimenting with boards and that’s got me super psyched. I’ve been working with some channel bottoms with DHD and it makes you take new lines and that’s exciting.
Describe the agony and ecstasy of surfing on the Gold Coast?
Surfing on the Gold Coast is madness but if you put up with crowds and take a few burns you might luck into the wave of your life.
Your take on the controversy surrounding the Cyclone Marcia swell (Dingo's burning, the use of skis, the chaos)?
In some cases you make an educated decision on whether a guy is going to make a wave or not and if you think he isn’t … you go. That’s what I think Dingo did. I try not to let the crowds get to me too much but sometimes it’s hard, especially if you grew up surfing the place. I think that’s why Dingo had a meltdown. It is chaos out there but people choose to throw themselves into the cauldron. Sometimes you get the tube of your life … sometimes you get nothing. If you don’t like it there’s plenty of other waves you can go surf.
What does Kirra mean to you?
Kirra is just a throwback to my grommet-hood surfing with my brothers and friends and getting our first crazy pits. Some of the best times of my life were spent out in that line-up or in the carpark talking about sessions we’d had out there. I love it.
Goals – what is it you want to achieve in surfing before you take off the rashie for good, equalling or bettering MR’s four world titles perhaps? Although you may not be allowed back in Newcastle again if you do!
It’s funny thinking about what I want to achieve because I’ve been lucky enough to accomplish my life goal a few times. I do know that every event I go in I want to surf well and there’s still two contests on tour – Fiji and Pipeline – I haven’t won. I’d love to cross those off the list. As for equalling MR’s record … that would be massive and obviously a title is the mission each season but it’s not the goal I’m lying awake in bed at night thinking about.
Speaking of retirement, Kelly has set a new benchmark for longevity on tour, can we still expect to see you on tour at 43 or is that a Kelly thing?
Hahaha! I think it’s a Kelly thing. He’s a freakish human. I do hope I’m in as good a shape as Kelly when I get to his age. I don’t have a date in mind at the moment but when I lose the motivation and I feel my performance is slipping I’ll call it a day.
When you envision yourself with the feet up after you’re done what is the picture that comes to mind?
Sitting on my deck at home with my feet up reflecting on an uncrowded session out front. Hopefully watching groms that I’ve mentored on the webcasts chasing world titles.
Where would you like to see the sport of surfing go? Is it on the right track in your opinion?
I’m pretty happy with where surfing is right now. I love that the tour is just one aspect of being a pro surfer these days. I like seeing what the guys chasing clips are doing away from competition, I really enjoy following the big wave guys and their wild antics. If it continues to head down that path, it’s all good.
What fears, if any do you hold for our sport in general?
The major fear for me is the ocean environment. As surfers we should make the coastal environment our responsibility. If you don’t know how to go about it become a Surfrider member and get behind some of their campaigns.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given to date, and who gave it to you?
The best piece of advice is never give up. It applies to everything in life from surfing to relationships to business. Don't be afraid to try. My mum always told me that
Life outside of surfing and your career, how do you find a balance?
Surfing is just something we do, it doesn't define who you are. The quicker you realise that the better your surfing will be because it turns back into a pleasure to go surf instead of becoming draining.
The most important manoeuvre in surfing is…? Why?
The trim. Do it wrong and you’ll be flapping around struggling to generate enough speed to do anything. Trim well and you’ll have the speed to try just about anything.
Working with DH, that must be such a well-refined relationship by now, how do you two still find things to improve? It must be a matter of millimetres?
My performance boards are so refined that I’m actually starting to tweak them just to get a fresh feel. Lately I’ve been trying some channel bottoms and I’m loving the sensation. But always trying to tweak and improve the everyday things too.
Previous spread: It couldn't be anyone else. Mick's trademark arm movements in motion as he sets up a dream run at Kirra.|| Main: The wrap that cashes cheques was in fine form on the Gold Coast.||
Mick goes to church inside a Gold Coast cathedral ||