Surfer Mick Fanning pays tribute to brother amid Pipe Masters ‘Heat of the Year’

Yesterday, Australian surfing icon Mick Fanning paddled out at the Billabong Pipe Masters with a heavy heart having learned that his older brother Peter had passed away in his sleep the night before.

Still, Fanning was able to overcome his emotions and defeat John Florence and Kelly Slater in what many are calling the “Heat of the Year.”

Hours after doing so, Fanning took to Instagram to share a touching photo of him and his three brothers as schoolchildren, and accompanied it with a heartfelt tribute to his brother.

A photo posted by Mick Fanning (@mfanno) on

“I am so grateful for the incredible love and well wishes that have come my way since learning of my eldest brother’s passing this morning. Like all my big brothers, Peter will always be a hero to me. I have so many great memories of the good times we have all spent together and they will be with me forever,” Fanning wrote on Instagram. “We recently caught up and he told me how proud he was of me and how much he loves watching me compete. Today was one of the most challenging days of my life but I knew I could find the strength to take part in the final event of the season because that's what Pete would want.”

RELATED: Mick Fanning chasing world title despite brother’s death

“I also want to give special thanks to my other brothers – my friends on tour – for their support, I couldn't have got through today without them,” Fanning continued. “I would ask for some privacy on this matter while we come to terms with this devastating loss. Big thanks from our entire family. Tell the special people in your life you love them and give them a hug.”

Following the news of his loss, the action sports industry reached out to support Fanning, with many sharing their condolences and well wishes over Twitter:

Fanning is through to the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters, where he’ll face off against Slater as he vies for his fourth world title.

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