Words by Ben Mondy
“Once I got to the end of 2015 I was just empty, I had nothing left in the tank. That year was obviously a tough one,” says three-times ASP World Surfing Champion Mick Fanning, slightly underplaying a 12-month period during which he’d been attacked by a great white, gone through a marriage break up, lost a second brother and just missed out on a World Title. “But for the three years before that, I’d also been in title races and that takes a lot out of you. I felt I just I couldn’t give anymore and I needed a break. I needed to walk away and fill up the tank.”
I was talking to Mick in Norway at the end of last year. It was 3pm, and the sky was as dark as ink. Outside a howling Arctic wind threatened to Wizard of Oz the wooden house into another dimension. Usually at that stage of the year he would have been focusing on Hawaii, either training for Pipe, or donning the singlet with the seething WQS masses at Haleiwa. When Mick walks away, as with most things in his life, he sure doesn’t fuck about.
“We paddled out for a surf under the Northern Lights…I was screaming like a schoolgirl”
“Just a few days ago I ran outside and it was snowing,” he recounted. “Then it cleared and there was this magical three-hour sunset, just as the waves got better and better. After a surf we had a fantastic dinner and a quick nap, then at midnight we paddled back out for a surf under the Northern Lights. It’s these kind of moments where you realise just how awesome it can be putting yourself in positions that would be impossible if you were on tour. I was literally screaming like a school girl.”