7 of the Most Memorable Moments of Mick Fanning’s Surf Career

Mick Fanning ditches the jersey and heads for the horizon. Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Cestari/WSL

“It’s time,” Mick Fanning simply stated on Instagram Wednesday morning. Time to retire from competition on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour.

After being a hyper-focused competitor for the last decade-and-a-half, Fanning is finally going to hang up his number-7 jersey this April after the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

The 36-year-old three-time world champ has had a career full of highlights, being a near-lock for top 5 CT finishes year-in and year-out.

“White Lightning,” as he was nicknamed early on for his speedy, top-to-bottom surfing, will go down as one of the greats. To commemorate what he’s done for the sport of surfing, here are 6 of the most memorable moments of his career in the water.

1. All Three World Titles (2007, 2009 and 2013)

Each one of Mick Fanning’s world titles holds extreme significance. The first came only three years removed from tearing his hamstring off the bone. The second, well, not many people can back up one world title. And the third came at a time when the surfing world believed he was no longer a threat for the world title.

All the years in between these following memorable events were filled with these world titles. Intense heat battles, fierce dedication and emotional victories, Fanning filled the 2000s and 2010s with plenty of legendary heats.

2. Wins Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach as Wildcard (2001)

A 19-year-old Mick Fanning announces his arrival in 2001 at Bells Beach. Photo: Courtesy of ASP

This is what catapulted Mick Fanning into the spotlight. At only 19, Fanning asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with. He then qualified for the World Tour in 2002, won Rookie of the Year, and the rest is history.

3. Great White Shark Encounter (2015)

His 2015 encounter with a great white shark at Jeffreys Bay will be what Fanning is most known for outside of the surf world. But it only highlights his dedication to surfing and being one of the best, as other competitors might have hung it up right then and there and counted themselves lucky for walking away unscathed. But White Lightning knew that lightning never strikes the same place twice.

4. Surfs in Pipe Masters After the Passing of His Brother (2015)

Mick Fanning looks to the heavens for his brother Peter before paddling out at Pipeline. Photo: Courtesy of Kirstin Scholtz/WSL

It was a tumultuous year in 2015 for Fanning. After the incident at JBay, he was still in the running for a world title coming down to Pipeline. But in December he lost his second brother to tragedy when Peter Fanning passed away in his sleep.

Fanning dedicated his performance to his deceased brother and put on an emotional performance at Pipeline. Although he fell short of the world title, it was a gutsy outpouring of surfing for losing a second brother (Fanning’s brother Sean was killed in a car accident in 1998).

5. Getting Redemption At Jeffreys Bay (2016)

As stated earlier, Fanning knows that lightning never strikes the same place twice, so he emphatically headed back to Jeffreys Bay the year after the shark encounter and finished the job. The job of course being that he was tangled up with the shark in the final in 2015, so he wanted to see his fourth JBay victory through.

6. Surfs Under the Northern Lights (2016)

Part of Fanning’s time off from the CT in 2016 included many once-in-a-lifetime excursions that the contest machine known as Mick Fanning had tossed aside to focus on world titles over the years.

With time on his hands, Fanning hit Iceland to surf under the Northern Lights and was gifted with something others only dream of doing.

7. Discovers the Snake (2017)

If that wasn’t enough, Fanning also “discovered” a previously unknown wave called The Snake. If there was an argument to be made about there still being perfection out there to find, Fanning did just that.

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