Mick Fanning’s Taking Off 2016 As A “Personal Year To Re-Stoke The Fire”

After life gave Mick Fanning an absolute thrashing last year – from the tragic death of his brother Peter, to separating from his wife, to being legit attacked by a shark – the pro-surfer has announced he’ll be taking off 2016 as a “personal year” to regroup / get a damn well-deserved break.

“Last year was definitely intense – what happened at J-Bay, being in a title race and the unfortunate passing of my brother,” he said in a press release from World Surfing League. “There was so much build up with everything that happening. I got to a point at the end of the year where I felt empty. I didn’t feel like I had much to give back.

“This year, I’m going to take some time off and have a bit of a personal year. Just to regroup and re-stoke the fire. At this stage, I’m going to compete at Snapper and I’m going to compete at Bells and then I’m going to take some time off from there. They (Snapper and Bells) are two events that I love and I’d go crazy if I were sitting at home and couldn’t go surf Snapper. Bells is like a second home as well. From then on, I feel like I have to take some time away from the tour to get out of that sort of zone to see where my head is at.”

An incredible end to an incredible week of waves!! ?? @corey_wilson @ripcurl_aus #surfedout

A photo posted by Mick Fanning (@mfanno) on

He said this “definitely not a retirement”, but a breather after 14 straight years on tour, the last four of which he’s found himself in title contention.

“I’ve been in a title race for the last four years in a row. It takes a big toll on your mind and your body.”

Fanning – who has amassed from 21 event wins and three world titles – said he came to his decision after speaking to WHO Commissioner Kieren Perrow and CEO Paul Speaker, whom he praised as being incredibly supportive.

“Even last year, with all the things happening, they were the first people that would reach out to support and make sure everything was okay.”

He’s also aiming to get back this year to Jeffreys Bay, the site of the on-camera shark attack that propelled him into the spotlight.

“I want to go back to J-Bay. I feel like there’s something there that I want to go and face. I want to make sure that I scratch that off the list. I think the main thing will be that first surf. I probably won’t be getting up at dark and getting out there before the sun gets up anymore. I think it’s more about jumping in and surfing once or twice and then I’ll be fine.

“It’s the same thing as when I came back and surfed Snapper for the first time. You’re a little bit wary and it’s in the back of your mind, but you get to a point where you start to feel comfortable again. If I go and do that event, there are going to be a lot of eyes on me.

“A lot of people will be seeing what reaction I’ll have. I don’t think I’ll be paddling out early for heats, but I think after a surf or two, I’ll feel fine.”

Source: WSL.

Photo: Joe Scarnici / Getty.