050 MICK FANNING
Steve England sat down with Mick for a chinwag.
So, how is life off tour? It's fun, it's not stressful, every day is exciting, and you don't know what is going to happen, it's good!
It looks like you've been doing some incredible things?
Yes. I guess some people think you kind of retire and disappear, but that is not what I wanted to do. I had this big plan in mind to keep chasing waves and keep chasing surfing. That and I've been able to do some of the other things outside of surfing because now I have time to give to them which has been fun. Just doing stuff that I wouldn't usually find myself doing, which is cool.
Was that a conscious decision, or have you just been dragged into stuff? A bit of both. I had six months off in 2016, and I had the opportunity to go to do a whole lot of different things, and that was awesome. I think that opened my eyes so when I went back on tour, and I found myself sitting in my hotel, or wherever I was, waiting for events or waiting for the call, I found myself thinking that I could be doing so much more fun stuff. So that was a big part of me leaving the tour, and I've just been trying to put myself in positions where I never thought I'd be.
It must have been pretty full on because you were a pro surfer from around 12?
Yes, I've been doing contests since I was 12, but when you're a kid, you're so excited there are not enough contests to do! Then as you get older, it changes, and after 16 years of being on tour, it's like 'Alright it's time to try something new...' You lose that fire. I can probably still compete with the new guys, but you just lose the fire; you don't train, you get lazy and then that rolls into a different thing where you start hating yourself because you are not respecting the sport for what it is and what it should be.
Someone once said all the jobs become jobs after a while even if they are a dream job. Yeah, like if I had to keep going, I could have, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to step away and still be OK.
It's pretty full on anyway chasing world titles because everybody thinks 'It's just surfing' but when you see the training involved these days you have to be a total athlete and you have to step right up every day.
Yeah, it is for sure, and there's nowhere to hide these days with the internet. Like when I first went on tour, there was no internet so you could get drunk the night before your heat and surf like shit and no one would ever know. Now if you have a terrible heat, the internet lights up and destroys you. So you have to put the effort in which is cool, but it's a legit sport now whereas back in the day it was more of a lifestyle I think.
How do you deal with all the comments on the internet and being under the spotlight 24/7 and with surfing being a mainstream sport in Australia? I mean everybody recognises you, how do you deal with that? Do you just put your head down and pretend nobody can see you?
Laughs, You try! That is one of those things, and there is time to be open with everyone and take all that and do autographs and stuff, and then there are times where you've got to be a prick. Like for me when I'm sitting down eating food and people come and ask you for photos, I apologise, but that's my time you know. I'm not having dinner with you. I'm having dinner with the people at the table. So that's a big thing for me, but most times it's pretty minor. Most surfers are pretty cool anyway. Yes, some ... I'm joking.
So what about the internet? When social media kicked off did all the comments and the commentary and everybody being on your back the whole time, did that bother you because some people use the comments just to hate.
Yes at first when it all started happening it was kind of 'Wow this is heavy', and then you realise that the people that are doing it are probably just sat there at home, probably mean it as a joke, so you never know the context of it. If people say things to my face then fine, but if people get carried away on the internet, then good on them, I hope that makes them happy, because I don't give a shit! (laughs).
So Parko was pleased to leave the tour? Yeah, we were pretty similar in that I could see that Joel wanted to leave for a while. Once he won his world title, he was enjoying it and was staying there for different reasons. But I could tell when he had checked out, and he checked out maybe a couple of years before we retired.
I think he may have stayed one year over? Yes. I think he just wanted to have a party with everyone. He had his 55 retirement parties! We are both on different trajectories at the moment; he's got his family and is happy doing school runs, just creating a routine at home, where I'm still keen to keep travelling and doing enjoyable stuff. But we catch up and surf together which is cool, and we did a trip earlier in the year for the new Griffin Colapinto movie which was great. So we are both enjoying not being there. But we do still get on the phone to each other actually. As we're talking about keyboard warriors … laughs ... and we talk shit to each other about this or that guy and what they are doing wrong ... laughs ... but then we're talking about other guys who do really well. It would be a bizarre podcast him and me.
You should do it! Yeah ... No! laughs
I HAD THIS BIG PLAN IN MIND TO KEEP CHASING WAVES AND KEEP CHASING SURFING.
So surfing has just become an Olympic sport, what are your thoughts on that?
I think it's great I wish it came earlier I would have loved to be able to compete in it.
But you could still probably could?
To be honest with the waves in China, I don't think so. I’d get flogged! So I don't want to sit there and try and take somebody else's dream from them. I'll be happy to be there and enjoy watching, but I think it's great for the sport and it's great for the athletes that are going to qualify to be on the global stage. The Olympics is the pinnacle of world sport.
What would you rather then would you rather be a Pipe Master or Olympic champion?
I'd probably take the Olympics.
No! would you? Yeah!
What about the Eddie?
I'd probably still take the Olympics. Growing up, I watched so much sport, and the Olympics was always the pinnacle for me. I would properly take Olympic champ over a World Title.
Yes, it's like a whole different thing. The gold medals and all the buildup, the network and after speaking to varying athletes about going to the Olympics and about being part of the team it's just a whole different feeling, and it looks incredible.
So there's no chance of talking into surfing for Ireland then?!
Laughs … No, I'd love to, but I'd still have to qualify. I qualify by being Irish, yes, but actually for the Olympics.
So how was your trip to Ireland, because I know it pretty well and was checking the forecast when you are over with G-man, and it looked like you pretty much scored every sick spot going there?
Yeah, it was incredible. The couple of weeks that I had there were genuinely impressive. I've been there a few times and had okay waves but not great waves. But this time I got to surf places like Aileens and all these fantastic places, and it was cool hanging out with G-man. The place is great, so it was awesome to go and travel pretty much the whole west coast. At the end of it, I went to see my family, and that was fun, and then we went into Dublin for a couple of days and celebrated the trip!
So at the minute, mental health is at the forefront of men's health. Everyone's overly stressed; you had your legendarily stressful year. So any advice to help you to destress? Competing on a world tour for a world title is a hugely stressful occupation, and the pressure comes from the inside as well as out because you're a competitor.
It is a big thing these days, and we don't take enough time out for ourselves because you’re always connected to the phone or always connected to someone or something. So I think each day you have to be able to take time out for yourself and the way you do that is totally up to you. Whether that is doing some yoga, some meditation or going for a surf, it's just detaching yourself from the world and making yourself a whole again. We always think that we have to get this done or that done, but the truth of the
matter is, it can wait. You know if you're stressed out at work and keep rushing and rushing, then you're not doing a good job anyway. So it's about giving yourself some time. It could be 10 minutes, it could be an hour, but you have to somehow re-energise yourself and disconnect from the world, and concentrate on you. The way I did that was each afternoon or each evening before I went to bed, I would sit and breath and watch my thoughts go. Just zone out, forget everything and relax.
Have you always done a lot of yoga and mindfulness?
Yes, yoga is excellent, because you have to concentrate on your body, you focus on your breathing, concentrate on movements, and you're not thinking about the outside world. It's a great way of getting back to yourself. Even if you're just on a treadmill or just going for a walk on the beach and you leave your phone at home. It is just being there rather than being in someone else's email or Instagram or Facebook. So that's how I got through things.
People seem under so much pressure to live up to expectations placed on them by social media posts.
Yes, definitely. Like to be straight up, Instagram isn't real. You know how many times have you seen pictures of couples putting pictures up of how good their marriages, how good life is, and then two weeks later they are divorced. It is total bullshit, but as humans, we want to portray that image of ourselves. But in all reality shit happens in life so fucking own it.
Apart from Fisher, who seems to have a wonderful life at the moment. All of a sudden he's the superstar DJ!
Yeah I know don't tell him that though! It's classic ... laughs ... I've known Fish since he was 10-years old, and he is just one of those personalities. You knew something would happen for him you but didn't know what was going to be. He's such a presence, such a funny dude. I mess around with him and tell him I hate his music, but as a mate, I'm so proud of what he has achieved and what he's doing.
So going back over the last 18 months what has been your most special moment?
I like getting off the grid, and I made a trip last year to Africa where we just went camping for five days, and we got incredible waves. We were camping 10 metres from the shore, and it was pumping for five days. It was just amazing. We didn't have any times or schedules to meet apart from to surf in daylight hours, but other than that we were catching crayfish, cooking all our food and we were disconnected from the world. That was fun, that was a perfect time to be alive.
And how is the brewery going?
Is going well! Growing so fast and the boys in there do an incredible job. We are close to 60 employees now; the boys are working 24/7. It hectic, but it's incredible. We didn't think it was going to grow this fast - we are in every state in Australia. Hopefully, one day, we will be international and do some international beer tours!
Have you got anything amazing plans for the next year?
I have a couple more trips with Ripcurl coming up this year, and I want to drive around Australia. I'm building a campervan, so I'm just going to chase waves and be on my own time. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do at the moment, I'm just being me, but there are incredible waves right around Australia, and it's going to be great!
Any last advice to people?
To to be true to yourself and give yourself time. We do go through hard times, but we do go through good times. It is just about balancing life and not expecting it to be 10 out of 10 every day because sometimes you're a -10 ... laughs ... But it is OK to just be OK.
I LIKE GETTING OFF THE GRID, AND I MADE A TRIP LAST YEAR TO AFRICA WHERE WE JUST WENT CAMPING FOR FIVE DAYS, AND WE GOT INCREDIBLE WAVES.