After spending 2016 as a part-time Championship Tour (WCT) competitor, three-time WSL world champion Mick Fanning announced Monday that he will be returning to full-time competition on the 2017 WSL Championship Tour.
“I’ve decided to come back to competition full time and do the Tour this season,” Fanning told the World Surf League. “I’m excited to put the singlet on again.”
Following an emotional year in 2015 where Fanning was attacked by a shark during the J-Bay Open, his brother had tragically passed away, and he finished runner up in the world title race, Fanning decided to take a personal year the following season, surfing only a handful of WCT events and taking some time to pursue other endeavors.
“2015 was a tough year,” Fanning told the WSL. “A lot happened to me on camera and in my personal life. I just felt exhausted by the end of it. Fortunately, I was in a position to step away from the Tour and have some time to myself.”
However, this year, it seems that Fanning is setting his sights on nabbing yet another world title, and some are saying he’s certainly capable of shaking things up.
“If Mick is in 100 percent I’d put him right at the top of the heap,” Kelly Slater told the WSL. “You’d be silly to not think Mick is top three in the world right now, all things considered. Having won at so many different breaks and being so dominant at places like Bells and Jeffreys Bay, there’s no way he’s not a contender.”
“I’m getting super excited about this year’s lineup of surfers — it might be the best field from the top seed to number 34 we’ve ever had,” Fanning told the WSL.
Fanning is one of the most dedicated and driven (not to mention, decorated) competitors ever on Tour with 22 WCT wins and three world titles under his belt, but even with those accolades it doesn’t seem that he is satisfied quite yet.
Throwing his hat into the ring for 2017 will surely only add to the fireworks that this year’s field of competitors is capable of producing.
“The most important thing to me is making sure my surfing keeps evolving and the tour, now more than ever, is the best place to do that,” Fanning told the WSL.