Stab Magazine | Cut through the heat with Sprite: Mick wins third World Title

Cut through the heat with Sprite: Mick wins third World Title

All photos by Joli Sprite’s Cut Through The Heat is an ongoing series of fabulously awkward moments in surf, some of which you haven’t heard. Yes we’re talking the behind the-scenes stories of some of the most famous incidents and mishaps in surfing’s rich history and the eventual resolutions. Here we remember the intensity, and […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

All photos by Joli

Sprite’s Cut Through The Heat is an ongoing series of fabulously awkward moments in surf, some of which you haven’t heard. Yes we’re talking the behind the-scenes stories of some of the most famous incidents and mishaps in surfing’s rich history and the eventual resolutions. Here we remember the intensity, and last-minute suspense, of Mick Fanning’s 2013 World Title win…

Keen observers of the sport of surfing will certainly remember Mick Fanning’s World Title victory in 2013. It’s a story that, given the year he had in 2015, and the fact he was in a similar race heading into Pipe this year, is worth retelling. Let’s glance in the rearview for a moment!

“The world title is something that takes a whole year,” says Mick. “But sometimes it can feel like it boils down to the final day and the final heats.” And it certainly did in 2013. In particular, it felt like there were two moments that really, really won Mick the title. Here’s what happened.

Rolling into Hawaii in 2013, it almost seemed preordained that Mick would be the World Champ. There was just one big, scary speed hump standing in his way: Kelly Slater. #cmonmick had three times as many hashtags as #onlykellycan, but Kelly is the sport’s most winning surfer in history. Never to be underestimated.

Mick had brought his whole family and crew to Hawaii. He wanted them to be there when he won. It’d come down to eight waves and 120 minutes: the eight scoring waves Mick required over four half-hour heats to claim the 2013 world title from Kelly. The heat was real for Mick.


Mick was seeded straight into round three, where he faced Kaimana Jaquias. Any World Tour surfer is scared of Hawaiian wildcards at Pipe, so Mick would take no chances against Kaimana. He opened strong on an 8.33, and backed up with a 7.30. Mick moved into round four, where he fumbled at the end of the heat in the form of an interference against John John Florence. At the time, many questioned whether this was done on purpose (putting Mick against CJ Hobgood and Yadin Nicol in the next two heats rather than Julian Wilson and John John Florence again), but Mick’s never been one to listen to critics. Either way, the next morning he’d face CJ Hobgood in round five. A third world title was only two heats away for Mick. But at a place like Pipeline, nothing is certain.

Competitors, contest organisers and webcast viewers woke up to postcard Pipe for finals day. Pristine, fluoro blue barrels were draining perfectly along the reef. It was on.

Mick paddled out for the first heat of the day against CJ. CJ is a world champ himself and terrifyingly good when it comes to big, left barrels. Mick had a serious job on his hands. And… the ocean decided to play hardball. No matter how good it may look, Pipe is a shifty wave. Mick and CJ scratched around for 28 minutes, CJ having more luck and managing to find a 6.83 and 3.67. Mick was sitting on a 2.50 with one minute and 35 seconds remaining. All seemed lost for the Gold Coaster. That is, until, a peak jacked up and Mick scratched in. This was his last shot. The whole surfing world was watching. He rolled in, casually bottom turned up beneath the lip, and burned through the heat’s most perfect wave. He was blown out and the beach erupted. The score… 9.50 points. Mick had advanced. “It wasn’t easy,” said Mick at the time. “If you want to win a world title, you have to put it all on the line. I basically got flogged for 28 minutes of that heat before that gem came through. I heard from all the boys whistling on the beach and I knew it was going to be a good one when it came in. I got a roll in off second reef and it set up for a really good section on first reef. It came through at the right time and that was definitely a magic moment for me.”

Billabong Pipe Masters

If he’d thought that heat was intense, then the quarterfinal match up against Yadin Nicol was a heart attack. Yadin needed to win to hold his place on the tour. If Mick won this heat, Kelly Slater could win the whole event and it would matter: Mick would still be World Champ. All that remained now were two scoring rides.

Yadin was on. He wrangled a 7.57 and a 9.33. Mick was sitting on a 7.33 but needed a 9.57 if he was to win the heat, and world title. Time waits for no man and the clock was running out. Mick couldn’t believe he was in this situation again. Surely he couldn’t lose like this? And then, it came: The wave that would change it all.

Mick rolled in, and with a display of the freakish composure that he possesses, drove the foamball through an impossibly perfect barrel, finding an exit and screaming at the sky. Beach reactions don’t come any louder.

The wave was so last-minute that Mick had reached the sand before the score had dropped. The year prior, when Joel Parkinson won his first world title, Mick was the first person to meet him in the shorebreak and chair him up the beach. This year, Joel returned the favour, meeting Mick on the sand immediately after his heat with Yadin, waiting with him for the final deciding score. The score dropped: A 9.70. And that was it. Mick was the World Champ.

“I’m sure I gave my wife Karissa and my mum enough stress today to last a lifetime,” said Mick. “I was never worried myself now that I think of it. I knew what I needed to do and if the opportunity came, I knew I could do it. That opportunity came in both heats today. It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve been having fun all year and to clinch on a day like this at Pipeline makes it that much more special.”



Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022


Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022


“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022


Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022

Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Nov 24, 2022


How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022


‘I Thought He Was Gonna Grab A Machete… Then He Picked Up A Rock’

2x SSOTY Jai Glindeman’s drama (& left-tube) filled Sumbawa trip.

Nov 23, 2022


“The Inside Of Pipeline Sounds Like The Center Of The Universe”

Tosh Tudor seeks solitude at the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 22, 2022

Is Rasta Rob Really Going To Ride His Beloved Stock Dims Rad Ripper At The Vans Pipe Masters?

An interview with the most rapidly ascended surfer in recent memory.

Nov 22, 2022

Sierra Kerr And Robbie McCormick Win Vans Stab High Indonesia Presented By Monster Energy

And we had a live premiere in Oceanside to celebrate.

Nov 22, 2022

The Stab Guide To The World Cup

Including which team bears most similarities to former CT surfer Ricky "Ricky Badness" Basnett.

Nov 21, 2022

Unlocked: Albee Layer Speaks His Mind In His SEOTY Entry, ‘Delirium’

Come for the double rotations, stay for Albee's existential thoughts on surfing and life.

Nov 20, 2022