Slater Says Surfers Are Anticipating Fanning’s Comeback
Former world no.4 surfer Mick Fanning (Tweed Heads, Aus) will return to competitive surfing in the upcoming Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile – the opening 2005 Foster’s Men’s World Championship Tour (WCT) event on the Gold Coast this March — after an horrific surfing accident left him on the sidelines for most of 2004. Still at only eighty per cent of his former strength but improving daily, the 24 year-old was recently seen turning heads surfing at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast in the Cyclone Kerry swell.
Fanning who has been awarded the 2005 WCT injury wildcard burst onto the international arena in 2001 after winning the World Qualifying Series (WQS) by the biggest point’s margin in the sports history. His inaugural WCT 2002 campaign saw him claim the “ASP Rookie of the Year” title and also the no.5 spot in the world. He then upped the ante in 2003 where he was steadfastly in the hunt for a world title, finishing fourth on the end of year rankings.
After over a decade of constant touring Fanning’s life was turned upside down last June in the Indonesian Hinako Islands where a floater went horribly wrong causing him to do the splits on his board tearing muscle off bone and pulling his hamstring. He was forced to endure 48 hours of pain, sailing for ten hours and then catching three flights home to Australia with just a couple of valiums for relief before seeking medical help.
“I was pretty immobile for three months of the year, for the first six weeks I wasn’t allowed to do anything, I was on crutches. I couldn’t drive for about six weeks, couldn’t sit properly. I had to sit on an angle so the joint could mend,” said Fanning. “It was pretty radical just sitting there doing nothing all day. My mum was hating me.
“It’s a really rare injury. The doctors who operated on me have done the most in the world and last I heard they were up to number 35. It’s a radical injury. They said if I didn’t have surgery I may never run again so that’s means I would never surf again.”
A formidably fit looking Fanning is confident of further improvement by the time the Quiksilver Pro commences on March 1st and right now is just super stoked to be back in the water.
“I’m feeling pretty good, just learning how to surf again,” said the always understated Fanning. “At the moment I am about eighty per cent. That’s what I feel anyway, pretty close, just a little bit more strength work and I should be ok.”
Former six times world champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) is looking forward to the return of Fanning in the Quiksilver Pro and is not underestimating him as a major contender on this years WCT.
“I think everyone is going to be excited to see Mick Fanning start his year, to see when he hits the water and see if he is at one hundred per cent, said Slater. “Mick is such a talented surfer that it’s a shame that he ended up spending most of last year off the tour because there are places where you really want to see him surf. Obviously the Gold Coast is one. But you also want to see him at J-Bay and on some of the big open face waves because that’s where he really shines. He is probably the quickest surfer in the world in small conditions. He is going to be a threat not just on the Goldy (Gold Coast) but in most every wave on the tour this year.
Despite the down side Fanning made the most of his time at home and the Quiksilver Pro will see a much more relaxed and keen competitor return to the line-up. He enjoyed the longest period away from touring and the spotlight since his meteoric rise as a young teenager, taking time to re-ignite old friendships and examine other aspects of his life.
“Last year I took it way to seriously and I wasn’t really enjoying my surfing. I was taking it as a job and I was exhausted. I didn’t want to paddle out half the time. With the break even though it was bad, it was a blessing really to figure out what I had to do and hoow to do it and stuff like that. It was great. I never really had time to think about what was happening it (surfing career) just happened so fast. The break showed me what I really wanted in surfing and in life as well.”
“It was pretty hard being out of the water, I was sort of lucky because the waves were crap all year and I didn’t have my mates going surfing and telling me how good it was. I didn’t go near the ocean for three months. It was gnarly but I pushed on through.”
“I’ve been frothing just to surf. I’ve been enjoying it a lot and hopefully that keeps continuing and by the end of the year I’m still enjoying it.”
Bar last years equal 33rd placing Fanning has been a stand-out since the inaugural Quiksilver Pro event in 2001 at his home break of Snapper Rocks. As a 19-year-old he finished second to West Australia’s Taj Burrow in 2001. In 2002 he placed equal seventeenth. In 2003 he finished equal 3rd and surfed the heat of the tournament by defeating Burrow in a nuclear quarter final with a perfect 10 and a 9.6 to his opponents 9.3 and 9.17.
The Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro presented by Boost Mobile will turn Australia’s Gold Coast into Surfing’s Mecca with the worlds, top 45 male and top 17 female surfers commencing their 2005 WCT campaigns in the famous point break waves of South-East Queensland. Throw in the nation’s top four aerial surfers in the Quiksilver Airshow World Series final and then some of the industry’s best surfing talent in the Quiksilver Core Store Surf Challenge final and you know you are in for some serious surfing action.
Adding to the already explosive mix are the sport’s rising stars who will be battling it out in the Quiksilver Pro Trials and the Roxy Pro Trials for the remaining wildcard into either the men’s and women’s main event draw.
One of many features of the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro webcast will be the panel style ‘Live at 5’ show broadcast over the web at the completion of each day of competition. The show hosted by Quiksilver commentators John Shimooka and former world champions Martin Potter and Barton Lynch will wrap up the days event with special guests, hi-lights, antics, forecasts, interviews, insights and lots of laughs. On competition lay days a down sized version of the ‘Live at 5’ show will be broadcast at 8am local time with competition hi-lights and updated forecasts. Just log onto quiksilver.com
The action will commence Tuesday February 28th with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Trials. The WCT events have a waiting period for the best possible surfing conditions until Sunday March 13th.