Australian surfer Mick Fanning is mourning the loss of another brother, who died just before Fanning paddled out to compete in a heat at the Pipeline Masters.
It was confirmed by his sponsor Rip Curl on Thursday morning that Fanning’s older brother, Peter, 43, died in his sleep overnight.
Fanning was reportedly told of his brother’s death at the competition on Thursday morning, where he is chasing his fourth world title at the Hawaii event.
Despite the tragedy, he went on to qualify for the competition’s quarter-finals, where he will meet Kelly Slater on Friday morning (AEDT).
In a post-heat four win interview, an emotional Fanning said he was dealing with some “personal” issues, but did not go into detail at the time.
“It’s been a huge day. Just got some personal stuff going on at home, and just yeah, it’s sort of heavy to talk about right now,” he said as he began to break down.
“I’m just cruising and trying to live.”
It was unknown whether Fanning will continue to compete.
His sponsor Rip Curl released a statement on behalf of the surfing champ.
“This is a sad and unfortunate incident and is a private matter for the family to deal with,” a Rip Curl spokesperson said.
“We ask that the media respect their privacy. But we can confirm Mick’s older brother Peter has sadly passed away. We will not be commenting further.”
Meanwhile, the World Surf League said it had heard the news but was not in a position to discuss it.
“The WSL are aware of the reports but have not heard from the Fanning camp regarding them so we’re in no position to comment,” it said in a statement.
Fanning lost another brother, Sean, in a car crash in 1998, and narrowly survived a shark attack earlier this year in the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Fanning’s mother Elizabeth Osborne, who was watching the event live on television in Australia, admitted that she thought she had lost her son when he disappeared behind a wave battling a shark.
“I thought, the universe can’t be this cruel,” she told the Nine Network in August.
“And it also makes me think of the years we’ve had without Sean and how we really stuck together during that time and how beautiful it’s been.
“Only the one thing about our family now, especially me, is that I’m much more anxious.”
Ms Osborne has made the trip to be with Mick Fanning in Hawaii.
Seven Network reported a close family friend of Fanning’s confirmed the death, saying Peter was staying at Fanning’s Queensland home following his recent divorce.
It is believed Peter had three children.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Bede Durbidge was taken to hospital after wiping out in the Hawaii competition.
The 32-year-old was slammed into the reef on his first wave of his round-three heat.
It is believed Durbridge suffered a fractured pelvis.
– with ABC