The perpetual motion of Mick Fanning
Mick Fanning has stood on a French podium before. He won there in '07, '09 and '10. The first two years that he was showered by French bubbly were the two years he won the world title. Reckon he's fond of the place? He just packed his full suit and number one WT ranking into his coffin, and landed in Hossegor for this year's Quik Pro. With Kelly's Lowers win squeezing the ranking gap, we wondered at what point Mick's spine begins to tingle. After your clumsy Stab correspondent woke Mick from a jetlag-induced sleep, he was kind enough not to ice the callback two hours later. Speaks in volumes, right?
Stab: When was the last time you had a sleepless night thinking about a heat or an opponent?
Mick: Sometimes you have them, sometimes you don't. It's not so much about an opponent, but more about conditions. That's what I've been concentrating on this year – making sure I know what the conditions are gonna be like and making sure I'm ready for whatever we get.
What, like lying in bed on Namotu listening to the swell start to jack? Nah, the worst one was Tahiti, when we had that whole week of… I was first heat every day, and you're trying to figure out if it's going to be barrels or turns, showing up each morning with a few different boards. That was definitely the trickiest. (It obviously worked: Mick won the event).
What will you eat for breakfast on the morning of the event? I've just been doing some cereal and fruit, or maybe a smoothie. Nothing crazy. I've gotten rid of all the bacon and eggs. They're just for special occasions now.
Do you think having a child would be distracting from a world title? I guess you'd have to ask Joel that one. For him, he's got such good support in Monica, she's a good mum and on contest days, she pretty much takes over. But I think sometimes he likes the distraction of it all, because he doesn't have to think. I haven't been in that position, so when I have kids I'll be able to comment more.
Do you ever read books based on where you are in your life? I tried to read a couple over the last few events, but they never really panned out. I like biographies, I like learning about different people and seeing the way that they look at life. I do like reading, but if a book doesn't get up and go straight away, I get bored easily.
What's your most deadly turn? When I'm not super confident I go to my frontside slice, just because I've done it a million times out at Snapper. But it forever changes, and changes from board to board. You look at conditions and figure out what's right there and then.
You must have a 17-point rule. You score 17 points in nearly every heat. Discuss. For this year, I've been trying to concentrate on performance. I haven't really been focussing on results. It's been about surfing the best I possibly can each time, and maybe that's just from that, but getting 17 points in every heat isn't something I've been concentrating on.
Hypothetical: You win a heat with 19 points and the contest's on tomorrow. At dinner, do you reward yourself with a glass of red? I don't tend to drink too much. It's sorta only at the end of the event, 'cause the job's not done until it's done. But, it depends what company I'm in and if it's a really fun vibe and everyone's drinking, maybe I'll have a small glass of wine. I tend to stick to water, though.
Did that take a long time to learn? When I first got on tour, it was any opportunity to have a beer, just 'cause everything was so young and fun. So, I delved into it. But when I tore my hamstring off the bone I looked back at all the different results that I had and thought, "if I was a little bit fresher that day, I could've got through that heat". I had six months to sit on the couch and think about it. That's when the drinking thing got pushed to the side and became work before play. It just feels better at the end of the event, if you've done well and you have a beer and know you deserved it.
This is your 12th year in France. What's the best thing about it? I love it just because it's so exciting. You don't know if you've got the right bank, you're guessing where it's gonna be good at what time, everyone's texting each other to figure out where's best to surf. It's fun and exciting and if you get a sneaky surf and someone misses it, you feel good about yourself, but then if it's the other way around you feel shit (laughs). It's a really fun vibe.
After Fiji, you said you weren't worrying about the title race. Since then you've won an event and you're still leading. When do you start thinking about it? After Tahiti I thought about it but then at the end of the day you can't think about it too much 'cause you're gonna paddle out in a heat and just crumble. That happened at Trestles. There were heats where I was pretty nervous and didn't feel super comfortable. Hopefully I can turn that around and focus on surfing just what's in front of me. I've got to let the competition stuff work itself out. – Elliot Struck