Last year, the world watched while Mick Fanning punched a shark on live tv. Pow! Right in the kisser! It was fucking crazy. A shark attack on a live broadcast, and in the final, no less. It propelled Mick to new heights of fame. 60 Minutes, CNN, ABC, People, Time, The Inertia (and one or two other surfing websites, I think) covered it relentlessly. It was a sensation. The world noticed surfing–but not for the surfing. The shark attack heard ’round the world, though, was just one part in an incredibly rough year for Fanning. A split from his wife and the tragic death of his brother had the three time world champ understandably in need of a break from the tour. And so, he decided to take one.
“This year, I’m going to take some time off and have a bit of a personal year,” Fanning said. “Just to regroup and re-stoke the fire. At this stage, I’m going to compete at Snapper and I’m going to compete at Bells and then I’m going to take some time off from there… From then on, I feel like I have to take some time away from the tour to get out of that sort of zone to see where my head is at.”
It would be reasonable to assume that part of his time away from tour would involve taking time away from competing at J-Bay. His first surf back there, after all, involved a shark sighting. But a few days ago, he announced that he’d be back. “At the moment I have it pencilled in,” Fanning told Network Ten. “I’m going to compete. I’m going to Fiji at the start of next month and then go on to J-Bay. It is just a place that I have so many amazing memories there. I just feel it’s a place where I want to right the wrongs.”
So that’s good news. Mick Fanning and J-Bay go together like martinis and cigarettes. And how great of a story is it going to be when he wins it?