It took an entire waiting period, but a champion was finally crowned in Tahiti. Mick Fanning dropped a 9.37 and a 9.5 in the last 10 minutes of the Final to comeback and defeat Joel Parkinson, further cementing his rank as the current World No. 1. With a celebratory Hinano in hand, Mick sat down and reflected on his week at the end of the road.
We've seen that Final once or twice before, but the change of scenery was nice.
Yeah, Joel and I have had a few finals but this one was special. That was our third heat together this year, but a place like Tahiti? Who would have thought that two kids from the Goldy who don't even have a left at home could make the Final at Teahupoo? That's something that will live with us forever.
Do you remember how intimidating this wave was when you guys first started surfing it a decade ago?
It was so intimidating. It frightened the shit out of us. The first year we came it was Joel, Dean Morrison, and myself and we all stayed at Alain Riou's place. They actually only had one bungalow and it was the three of us plus Shagga in the one room. The first day Chopes was easy 10- to 12-foot and we were shitting ourselves. I remember Joel had two heats that day and Joel had to surf against Poto who had no legropes, five boards in the channel, and a lifevest on. Joel was like, "What?!"
It's been a long hard road to get to the point where you are today with that wave at Teahupoo.
Definitely. We've always had the skill to surf it, but maybe we just didn't put a whole event together before. It was pretty rad to think that an Australian hadn't won that event since Occy in 1999.
There was a dreamy quality to the surf today.
I think that was the funnest, most perfect Chopes we've ever surfed. It wasn't scary, it was pretty and blue and you didn't have rogue west ones coming at you. I don't know if the water patrol even had to make a save. It was incredible.
It seemed so perfect that it allowed the subtleties and style of everyone's tube riding to shine.
I think we were just putting ourselves as deep as we possibly could and just trying to come out the end. If it looked stylish it was an accident.
And both you and Joel rode quads on the final day.
Yeah, I think we've both been playing around with them for a little while, but the waves were so clean out there that it was the perfect place to try them out in a heat. I'm really happy with the way they went. You needed that extra speed to make those barrels.
Did you and Joel talk at all during the Final?
He tried to talk to me at one point but I gave him nothing. I was pissed off that I'd given him a couple of waves early. The only time he tried to talk to me was after he'd been flogged and he was telling me about his wipeout.
And he returned the favor later in the heat, and gave you the heat winner.
Yeah, that first wave of the heat, his 9.5, when it came in I went, 'shit, I'm going to need two 10s here.' The thing with yesterday was that even when he got those scores I knew the waves would be there for me to chase him, but I had to wait a while for them to come. But I guess that's the difference; sometimes it goes your way and some time it doesn't.
This sets you up pretty well for the back end of season, yeah?
Yeah, we've got a bit of a gap on the rest of the field at the moment, but I think it's one of those things where there's still a lot of work to do and your luck can change pretty quick when the events run back to back like they do from here.
Your thoughts on Kelly bowing out early here?
I don't know whether it's a good thing or not [laughs]. With Trestles next it'll probably just fire him up for a big event there.
The Top 10 had a very even look to it coming into Chopes. Are you sensing there will be a few guys having a crack at the Title later in the year?
I think if the results swung any differently today we'd be looking at a very different-looking ratings sheet. There are people who can turn things on real quick. There are so many good guys on the Tour today. If you go into an event cocky and thinking you've got it, well, guess what? You haven't.
Taking away some good memories from this trip?
Mate, it was one of the best trips ever. The whole week has been amazing. Even on the down days, I was up in George's flying boat, cruising around, having a hell time.