Mick Fanning’s 5 Most Memorable Bells Heats
Story by Elliot Struck
The Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach starts in a second (tomorrow) and few surfers have such a relationship with the place as Mick Fanning. He first competed there as wildcard in 2000 (making this year his 14th at Bells), and then again as wildcard in 2001 – except that time he won. Then, he scooped silverware again in 2012 over Kelly Slater. Given the fond history, we decided to pickle his memory and illuminate five highlights. “There’s been some funny heats along the way, good and bad," says Mick. "Luckily I’ve got a memory like an elephant!”
Here's Mick's five most memorable heats at Bells Beach...
2001: Mick vs Luke Egan – Round 3
This one was back when it was your top three scoring waves, not two. The waves were flawless that year, it was really perfect, super light offshore, four foot with some bigger ones. A picture-perfect day at Bells. So, we actually ended up tying. Luke was chasing a score and got it on his very last wave. Because he got the precise score, we ended up tied. Like, if they say you need a 7.60 or whatever, you really need a 7.61. But Luke got the 7.60. We tied, but because I had the highest single wave score, I ended up winning the heat. It was one of those ones where you’re sitting on the beach and then the score comes through and you go, “Ah, I lost!” And then someone says “Nah! You’ve won!” It was a down and then up feeling at the end of it. Three scoring waves seems so odd now.
2001: Mick vs Taylor Knox – Quarterfinal
Ok, so one from the same year. This one wasn’t because, but because it was pretty funny. It was against Taylor Knox in the quarterfinal and we were so psyched in the morning cause the waves were just firing. We were talking to each other saying, “How can anyone have a bad heat in these conditions?” I think we just fully jinxed ourselves. We both had an. absolute. shocker. I seemed to get it together just a smidgen before Taylor. We came in, looked at each other and just went, “we’re idiots.” We would’ve just barely gotten over 10 points each, and that was with three scoring waves. We had a shocker. We just couldn’t get it together. I was super excited cause Taylor’s my hero and it was the first time I ever got to surf against him so I was there thinking I had to throw everything at it. I don’t know what he did, he must’ve just had one of those heats…
2011: Mick vs Jadson Andre – Quarterfinals
One would have to be from 2011, against Jadson Andre in the quarterfinals. It was like, four to six foot, really clean Bells. It was the first time that everything sorta came together for me in that event. Everything felt really good, I just felt properly centred and everything felt like it worked in the right way that I needed it to. I had a heat at Rincon the day before, and sort of softed a couple of sections. I won the heat, but I just was so pissed off that I didn’t actually smash a few sections as hard as I possibly could. So I went to bed pretty furious with myself. Then the next day I just threw everything at it, which felt so good.
2011: Mick vs Joel Parkinson – Final
2011 was pretty solid on finals day and I got Joel in the final. The swell had been building all day and we were just riding shortboards. If I could go back in time I would’ve stepped up a little. I was aiming for the bigger ones and Joel went the medium, three-quarter ones and his were all really clean, mine were bumpy. I just couldn’t put it together. He just went crazy and smoked me. But the whole event I’d had, and that final day I had was really cool, and I came in happy with myself. But, pissed off that I couldn’t just do it for one more heat. All good though, I got it the next year. When you get to compete against one of your best friends for a Bell, it’s one of the things you’ll remember when you’re old and fat and sitting on the couch.
2012: Mick vs Kelly Slater – Final
That final was pretty amazing. We both had different approaches, he was going to the air and I was just sticking to the traditional carves at Bells. I had a few airs in the shorebreak (laughs). I wouldn’t even call mine airs compared to what he did in that heat. That event was one where everything really worked well. I’d just gotten a brand new board off DHD which was half an inch shorter than what I’d ever ridden, and it just worked perfectly at Bells. Just one of those magic boards that you have so much confidence on. But also too, sitting out in the water before the final, they’d celebrated the life of MP and to be out in the water and see all the people on the cliffs, hear that roar, and to feel all that emotion was amazing. I remember watching Kelly’s air from behind. He’d done the full rotation while I could still see him. I was thinking, “Fall off…” and sure enough the crowd just went crazy. I thought, “That’s a 10. I’ve gotta get my shit together.