We all knew the day would come, and sadly, three times WSL Champion Mick Fanning announced his retirement from the WSL Championship Tour.
The last time you will see him surf in the competition is the first two events of the 2018 CT season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. He will then retire from competitive surfing on the CT after his final heat in the famous Bells Bowl.
“I feel like I’ve just lost the drive to compete day-in day-out now,” says Mick. “It’s been something I’ve been doing for 17 years, and even before that through QS and Juniors, and I feel that I just can’t give it 100 percent anymore. I’m just not enjoying it as much as I was in the past. I still love surfing, and I’m still super excited by it, but I feel that there’s other paths for me to take at this stage in my life.
“As for choosing to retire at Bells, I’ve always had in mind that my last event on Tour was going to be Bells. That’s basically where I started my career, it was my first ever CT win, and I feel really connected down there.”
Mick first joined the WSL Championship Tour in 2002, after winning his first CT event as a wildcard entry at the 2001 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. The win confirmed Fanning as a major threat to the upper echelons of surfing and put his name on the map as a man who was going to make history.
In 2002, his first year on Tour, he won at Jeffreys Bay – a wave that went on to become one of his pet events – as well as one of the most pivotal moments in his career, and life, when he was attacked by a shark during the Final heat of the event in 2015.
In 2004, after two years of being on the Championship Tour, Mick sustained a career-threatening injury while surfing in the Mentawais, tearing his hamstring off the bone and putting him out of the water for months. But rather than give up, Mick took this injury and used it as motivation to come back even stronger. He was back competing amongst the elite by 2005, winning his maiden WSL Title in 2007.
“After so many years on tour, it’s been so fun,” says Mick. “It’s been a rollercoaster for sure, you have your peaks and valleys, but you know, when I look back on my time on tour it’s amazing memories – from building myself up to compete, to heat wins and event wins, celebrating with friends and just seeing places I never thought I’d even get to.”
Over the course of his career, Mick has been through more than most could imagine. He’s seen both personal triumph and personal tragedy under the scrutiny of the public eye, worked through injuries that would have ended careers, and punched a shark on live television, coming out completely physically unscathed.
Throughout 16 years at the elite level, Fanning has won 22 Championship Tour events and three WSL Titles, cementing him as one of the greatest surfers and sportsmen in history.
While Mick is retiring from full-time competitive surfing, he will continue to work with the WSL in an Ambassadorial role where he will support the WSL’s ocean health platform PURE, surfing development and various other projects.
Congratulations Mick, we couldn’t be more proud of you and everything that you’ve achieved – and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
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