If you don’t hear anything from Red Bull surfer Mick Fanning for a while, don’t worry. He’s not dead. He’s just sleeping. After an epic two weeks in Fiji for the Volcom Fiji Pro, where the only thing more punishing than the swell was the contest afterparty, Fanning returned home to Coolangatta, Australia, only to find eight-foot barrels outside his front door.
Unlike us mere mortals, Fanning phoned Julian Wilson, got a jet-ski and has spent the best part of a week surfing from dawn to dusk. We caught up with him in between surfs and naps to find out just how crazy the past few weeks have been for the current world number-one ranked surfer (a spot he claimed with his third-place finish in Fiji.
Mick! Your arms must be dead after Fiji and that cracking swell you’ve returned home to on the Gold Coast?
Pretty much. I only got home from Fiji on [last] Tuesday night and I’ve been surfing Kirra and Burleigh every day since -- and it’s been incredible. I can’t remember the last time it was this big -- a couple of years at least. It’s just been pumping around six to eight foot.
Mark Occhilupo reckons it was one of the best surfs ever.
He says that about every surf! When you’re 45, and you’re still surfing, you’re stoked.
The sweep is pretty strong out there at Kirra and the lads have been using jet-skis. Who has been your partner in crime?
Yeah, we’re not doing tow-ins or anything, just step-offs to get back in position. Me and Julian [Wilson] were actually sharing a ski the other day. It was super fun. We had a ball out there.
And looks like there’s been one or two people out there too, huh?
It’s the whole bloody Gold Coast, mate! There are millions! It’s been super fun, though.
Okay, let’s wind back the clock a little and reminisce about that once-in-a-decade, super-size swell in Fiji last week.
It was pretty mental! I ended up going early and there were waves then, and when the contest rolled 'round, it was still pumping, and that massive day was something else. It was crazy.
Something like only eight of the 32 guys on tour actually braved the swell on that massive day when the contest was called off, and you were one of ’em.
Yeah, no big deal. Nah, it was crazy. I went out and got smashed! Only a few of us went out, but it was ginormous. And it was still paddle-able. There were boat guys out there, locals or whatever just paddling in to monsters. There was definitely some good surfing going on. It was incredible to watch. I think that’s the best day in Fiji ever!
What the craziest thing you saw out there?
Ian Walsh’s barrel was mental, man. He got this one that was just so nuts. He was so deep and just sort of man-handling it like he was riding a six-foot wave. It was nuts.
"There were some pretty wild antics on Namotu – pretty much every night! It was pretty good times. Everybody was involved."
How big was it? The telecast said 16 feet. Other surfers said 20 feet.
Nah, it was bloody way bigger than that! I saw a 25-foot wave come through, if not bigger. It doesn’t do it justice on the telecast. Reed McIntosh got like a solid 20-footer, it could have been bigger, I don’t know. It was just massive!
And your biggest wave…
Ah, a three-footer…
Well, you were surfing the contest like you were in three-foot swell. Looked like you had some fun on the way to the semi-final.
Oh, yeah, I was pretty happy with the result. Most of my heats were pretty slow, and the last heat was super slow. But that happens. I was happy with how I surfed when I actually got a good wave. It was a really tricky event and I’m stoked with third.
Doesn’t hurt that you’re on top of the tour standings either, ahead of Joel.
And I let him know about it, too! Nah, it doesn’t mean anything this time of year. It’s nice though. When Joel lost in the fifth round, I knew I’d turned things around on him, and I’m pretty psyched. But Kelly [Slater]’s right there, too.
Speaking of Kelly, his bald melon isn’t fooling anyone – he’s obviously found the eternal youth elixir and just shaves his head to keep up the false appearance.
Ah, yep! He was ripping. He’s not getting any worse, let’s put it that way.
We hear things got pretty wild out of the water too.
Yeah, there were some pretty wild antics on Namotu [Island, Fiji] -- pretty much every night! It was pretty good times. Everybody was involved. It’s a sick event.
Until next time, Gadget.
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