050 MICK FAN­NING

Steve Eng­land sat down with Mick for a chin­wag.

Carve - - CONTENTS - It's dif­fi­cult not to envy Mick, but he's been through so much, and kept his head held high the whole time. He's a class act.

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.

No!

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.

Mick Fan­ning ver­sus Ship­sterns Bluff.

INTERVIEW BY STEVE ENG­LAND

Suf­fice to say life is pretty good in Mick's world.

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