A DIF­FER­ENT KIND OF FIRE MICK FAN­NING

WHAT'S FU­ELLING ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S GREAT­EST EVER COM­PET­I­TIVE SURFERS IN 2015?

Tracks - - Surf City Views : Chapter Four - BY BEN BUG­DEN

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.

SWILLY MO­RAN

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.||

SWILLY

Mick goes to church in­side a Gold Coast cathe­dral ||

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