Mick Fanning has champagne in his eye
Story by Elliot Struck Mick Fanning is absolutely serene. A Pipe world title showdown is no sweat for him. He ain’t goosebumped by Kelly Slater snapping at his achilles. He is simply serene. When Kelly was bounced in round two at Peniche and Mick then steamed into a fifth, a new status quo was coloured up: […]
Story by Elliot Struck
Mick Fanning is absolutely serene. A Pipe world title showdown is no sweat for him. He ain’t goosebumped by Kelly Slater snapping at his achilles. He is simply serene. When Kelly was bounced in round two at Peniche and Mick then steamed into a fifth, a new status quo was coloured up: To claim the title from Mr Fanning, Kelly must win at Pipe with Mick finishing fifth or worse. Stranger things have happened and the real beauty of surfing is in its unpredictability and everything, but they ain’t awful odds for Mick. Especially since he’s earned and deserved every inch of his current positioning. He’s ridden business class at every event this year (a ninth is his worst, which only happened once), and his joints continue to wow with dizzying levels of rubber flex. Stab captured the current aura of Mr Fantastic, which as it turns out is more golden than the new 5s, as he breezed through Tweed Heads…
Stab: Do you feel the lasers of Kelly’s Predator eyes burn the back of your head?
Mick: Well, you know he’s always going to be there. I’ve always wanted to be in a tight title race with Kelly. And I’ve got my wish. It’s all up to whatever happens at Pipe now. I’m more relaxed than I have been in other years, it feels good.
Is leading the race when Kelly’s so openly gunning for it like extra sugar in your java? Sometimes we say we’re not going for it, but we’re always going for it. Being as competitive as we all are, you always wanna be beating someone.
For any man who surfs competitively, beating Kelly is the holy grail. But have you reached a point where he’s an equal? He’s the greatest surfer of all time. You’ve gotta respect him in that sense. I don’t know what it’s like to not have him on tour. For me, he’s just a guy that I really wanna compete against. He’s not a competitor that I’m fearful of, you just have your work cut out for you with Kelly. When you wanna challenge yourself, you wanna be against the best. That’s what excites me about surfing against him.
Was Wilko’s rubber in Europe the best we’ve seen? Yeah. I think the fisherman’s one was his best work so far. Sometimes he goes a little bit controversial but that one just looked so real when he was walking around. Even when he was surfing, it looked like he was surfing in a flanno.
Gabs got you pretty good with champagne in the eye in France. Yeah, he got me real good. It was funny though.
Is it satisfying to spray someone in the face with bubbly when you finish runner up? Yeah, it feels pretty good. You got second, so it’s your turn to get one back real quick.
Mick says it’s satisfying to spray champagne in the eye of the man who beats you. Not so great to be on the receiving end as he was in France, howevs. Gabriel Medina unleashes. ASP/Cestari
Speaking of faces, your expression when the buzzer sounded at the end of Kelly’s heat in Portugal… To tell the truth, I didn’t really watch much of the heat. It had nothing to do with Kelly whatsoever. After I came in I’d been talking to a friend who wasn’t having a great day, and I’d just walked down to see some other friends and they were congratulating me on my heat. I actually didn’t fully know what was going on. So it might’ve looked a little different to what was really happening.
But, were you pleased once you figured out what was going on? In the scheme of the world title race it was a good thing for me, but you don’t ever celebrate someone’s loss. But as I said, I didn’t really pay too much attention. I hadn’t figured out what was going on and when it all happened, it was like, “Ok, cool, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do.” I didn’t celebrate, I just keep concentrating on what I have to do. I still feel like the underdog coming into Pipe. The ratings lead is what it is, but Kelly’s won Pipe before and I haven’t. I still feel like I’ve got a point to prove to myself.
Is Pipe a good event for you? I haven’t had a good finish there over the last couple of years but I’ve always felt good out there. I guess the hardest thing about it is adapting to the different type of format with the overlapping heats. It’s always a tricky one. I have good results there before, though, and I do feel like I can put up a good challenge there.
Will Josh Kerr remove Kelly from the picture as he did for Joel last year? I’m going into it to win, not for someone to lose. But dream scenario? Meet Kelly in the final and beat him.
Then Joel gets to greet you in the shorebreak. Yeah! Last year was amazing, I was stoked that I wasn’t in the event on that final day, just so I could spend it on the beach watching it all go down. I was stoked to be there for Joel in that situation and hopefully it can be a role-reversal this year. I’d be honoured if he greeted me on the beach.
Better twerk werk than Miley and don’t you even worry about that. Photo by Ryan Miller
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