A fit and firing Mick Fanning is ready to put a difficult end to last year behind him as he prepares for the Quiksilver Pro starting on Australia's Gold Coast on February 25.
The two-time World Champion missed the season-ending Pipe Masters in 2011 because of a neck injury, but, after an extended period away from the surt, he can’t wait for the World Tour’s opening event in his backyard at Snapper Rocks.
The man known as 'White Lightning' showed his extended break was just the tonic, dusting off any rust with the day’s highest score of 9.5 while competing for Kirra Surfriders Club during a recent boardriders event on the Gold Coast. A stellar field also included newly-crowned Pipe Masters champion Kieren Perrow, Joel Parkinson, Owen Wright, Adam Melling and Mark Occhilupo.
“I needed to take some time off and relieve some pressure on the neck,” Fanning said. “It was definitely a break I needed. I was feeling pretty stale and pretty close to burnout towards the end of the year. But everything has been good, I had a few weeks off and didn’t really surf all that much.”
'I needed some time off and relieve the pressure on my neck... I was close to burnout'
Fanning won the World Title in 2007 and 2009 and is a two-time winner of the Quiksilver Pro after wins in 2005 and 2007.
After growing up on the famous righthand point break at Snapper Rocks, Fanning said familiarity with the local conditions was a big advantage and there was always a thrill with the first event of the year.
“Every time you paddle out it is a new heat, but, being home advantage, we know the wave so well and have surfed here so much over the years it’s definitely a confidence booster and especially sleeping in your own bed.
“Being at home it’s pretty cool watching everyone trickle in. One day you’ll see one guy and think, ‘cool, the contest is only a few days away’. I love to see how everyone is surfing.
“On that first day of the event, everyone has done their pre-season, done all their work on boards and fitness and it’s great to see how everyone turns up in that first round. It’s really exciting with the buzz going around.”