For the past week, Mick Fanning has been holed up on the North Shore. He’s tested out his Pipe quiver, immersed himself in Hawaii lineups, and ensured that his body’s in prime condition. According to Mick, he feels good. Damn good. With his North Shore groundwork laid, he’ll soon board a plane back home to Australia, where he’s planning to relax with his family for a few weeks before heading back to Hawaii to defend his world title. The day before he left, we caught up with Mick for his thoughts on what the next month holds for him.
You're flying back to Australia before Pipe. Does that mean you'll be back in time for Sunset, or is it just the Pipe Masters this year?
Yeah, I'm not actually doing the Sunset event this season. I'm flying back to Australia tomorrow to rest a little bit and get myself completely set for Pipe. I just came out here to Hawaii to try and get reacquainted with the ocean out here, surf Pipe a bit, and dial in my boards to make sure everything's as good as it can be. Between now and then, I'll be back in Australia to relax and prepare for the end of the season.
Heading into Europe, a lot of the focus was on Slater and Medina for the title. A lot of people didn't figure you'd be such a contender. Did you always consider yourself in the hunt for the title?
Yes, I never thought I was out of the race. You're never out until you're out, y’know? I looked at the ratings going into Europe and knew what I needed to do. That's all I could do. I kept the faith and put my energy and focus into it and got the results that I needed to stay in contention.
Have you played out the title scenarios in your head? As in what needs to happen and who needs to do what?
I definitely have looked at who needs what and I know what I have to do—which is pretty much make the final or win—but I'm not studying the numbers or analyzing who will be surfing against who or anything. The goal is to win the Pipe Masters. That's always been the goal, so that's the only thing I'm focusing on. We’ll see if a world title comes with it.
You and Gabriel are going to be staying in the Rip Curl house together. Is that going to be a weird atmosphere?
[Laughs.] Yeah, we're actually sharing a bed! Nah, I'm just kidding, and no, it's not an issue with me at all. He's not here just yet, but I don't feel at all weird about staying in the same house as Gabriel during the event. I don’t know how he feels about it, but I said that if it gets at all weird, I'll head out and stay somewhere else. But no, it's not weird for me at all.
Slater's been healing some injured toes, but is adamant that he's going to be able to compete at Pipe. When you heard he broke his toes this close to the event, what went through your mind?
I've broken toes before and I've surfed in events with broken toes. It's not the end of the world. I think people have made a bigger deal about it than it is, I don't think it's going to affect Kelly that much. It's just a matter of how much tape he has on his toes when the event starts.
So you’re feeling good heading into the Pipe Masters?
Completely. I'm feeling great and totally fit. That was the main reason I came out here to the North Shore. I just wanted to dial everything in and ensure that everything is sharp. I feel great, and I'm ready for the event.