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As the tour makes its way to West Oz for the third and final stop of the Australian leg, it’s with mixed emotions as a familiar face won’t be joining. Mick Fanning has officially retired from competitive surfing. Now that the Bells event has finished, the fierce front side wrap that has inspired an entire generation won’t be on display in a jersey any longer. It’s a hard pill to swallow considering Fanning has been a CT staple for 17 years, but there’s no doubt that he constantly pushed the limits of what the sport considers high performance. Seventeen years is an incredible feat, and along the way we’ve seen some amazing moments that have impacted the lives of surfers from all around the world. Let’s take a look at our 5 reasons why Mick Fanning will always be remembered.
1. Winning Bells as a Wild Card
Back in 2001, a then up-and-coming Mick Fanning defied the odds and blazed his way to the final of the Bells event as a wild card. After an impressive performance against his childhood hero Danny Wills, Fanning earned his right to ring the bell which would mark the beginning of a new era for surfing. Fast forward 3 world championships later, it seemed fitting that Mick would hang up the jersey at the same event that kick-started his reign of dominance. Side Note: It was almost a fairy tale ending to his career - Mick placed second to an in-form Italo Ferreira. Could you imagine if he had won his last event ever?!
2. The Frontside Wrap
It’s few and far between in sports when a particular style or method of doing something gets associated with an individual. When it happens, you often hear youngsters, and even professionals, trying to emulate that person - watching videos in slow motion, attempting to feel the movement. Mick Fanning is the person that nearly every surfer tries to copy. Specifically, his frontside wrap is the best in the business. Everything from the speed of the turn to the placement in the most critical part of the wave, it has inspired nearly everyone who has set foot on a surfboard. Literally, words can’t do it justice, just watch the video:
3. 3x World Champ
They say lightning never strikes twice, but for the man we call White Lighting, it struck 3 times. Over the course of his 17 year tenure on tour, Fanning has accumulated 436 heat wins in 162 events, 22 Championship Tour wins, and 3 World Titles. Not too shabby. Although his first world title didn’t happen until 2007, he backed up it up in 2009 and then for the third time in 2013. It’s very interesting to hear Mick, in the most recent video put out by Red Bull, talk about the different moods each World Title had. If you have 10 minutes, take a peek!
4. JBay Shark Attack
According to Google, the odds of getting attacked by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. Leave it to Fanning to defy the odds in nearly every way possible, including surviving what could have been a very serious incident involving the man in the grey suit. In 2015 while surfing in the final of Jeffreys Bay contest, a huge shark cut through Mick’s leash and was inches away from doing some serious damage. Thank god it’s unlikely we will ever see something like this again in a CT event due to improved safety precautions that include drone surveillance and a dedicated shark patrol at high risk areas.
5. Always Personable, Kind, and Humble
When we think of any high profile athlete, they usually seem larger than life, right? They take on this super hero status that leaves us starstruck and lost for words. Mick, however, is one of those athletes that will take time to say hi and have a conversation. He has been to the shop on numerous occasions and while it may be part of a sponsorship responsibility, he is always so genuine and in the moment. We all see him on the webcast doing huge turns on waves of consequence, but to see him in person and shake his hand is just flat out awesome.
If there’s one thing any surfer or non-surfer can take away from Mick, it’s that being a good person who is kind and humble is one of the best traits a human can possess. In and out of the water, Mick Fanning is a class act, and a face that we will genuinely miss on tour. #CheersMick, enjoy the next chapter of life. We are all looking forward to it. See you in the water.