Stab Magazine | Mick Fanning will only compete in select events in 2016
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Mick Fanning will only compete in select events in 2016

Words by Elliot Struck This morning, it was announced via the WSL that Mick Fanning will be taking a “personal year” in 2016, only competing in select events. Midway through winning a superheat at Pipe against Kelly Slater and John John Florence. WSL/Laurent Masurel This should come as absolutely no surprise given the year he’s had, […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Words by Elliot Struck

This morning, it was announced via the WSL that Mick Fanning will be taking a “personal year” in 2016, only competing in select events.

Midway through winning a superheat at Pipe against Kelly Slater and John John Florence. WSL/Laurent Masurel

This should come as absolutely no surprise given the year he’s had, which included a shark encounter during the final of the J-Bay Open, the death of his brother Peter in December (on the eve of his World Title showdown), and the separation from wife Karissa earlier this month. But…

“This is definitely not a retirement announcement,” assured Mick.

Mick, who made $1.4k per wave last year, didn’t make this decision lightly – he took advice from other surfers who’ve been in a similar position. He’s heard from some that they regretted retirement, and from others that time off re-energised them. “I think that’s where I’m at,” he told the WSL. “I don’t want to turn my back on the tour. It’s given me so much over the years – it’s given me everything that I have today.”

2015 was Mick’s 14th straight year on tour and he’s been thinking about a sabbatical for the last few – problem is, he keeps landing himself in title contention and hasn’t been able to walk away. But all the things he’s endured in the last year compounded to turn 2016 into a year of… well, not quite rest, but certainly less intensity. “I’ve been in a title race for the last four years in a row,” he said. “It takes a big toll on your mind and your body.”

Mick has his face painted with traditional aboriginal paint. WSL/Kirstin Scholtz

While World Tour surfers incur fines for not attending World Tour events, the WSL does have a rule that allows former world champions to take a year’s sabbatical as they please – so long as they’ve qualified for that year. Kelly Slater did it, and so did Andy Irons.

But Mick’s hoping to surf enough events in 2016 to re-qualify, so that he doesn’t absorb one of the injury wildcard spots and “further confuse where they need to throw those things. If I can requalify through a handful of events then it takes that burden off the WSL.”

Surprisingly (or perhaps not – those steely nerves!), one of the events Mick plans on attending will be J-Bay, where he fought off a great white in the opening seconds of last year’s final. “I think the main thing will be that first surf,” he said. “I probably won’t be getting up at dark and getting out there before the sun gets up anymore.”

But for now, Mick’s been busy getting really, really deep in the unrelentingly good Superbank.

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