Three-time world champion Mick Fanning has announced he will retire from surfing’s world championship tour.
Fanning announced he was hanging up his surfboard in posts on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The 36-year-old will surf in two final events this year on the Gold Coast and Bells Beach, the venue of his first tour win back in 2001.
“The tour has given me so much, but I need a fresh challenge,” Fanning wrote.
“I still love the game but can’t find the motivation and dedication required to complete for world titles anymore.”
Fanning thanked his family, his sponsors, surfboard shaper Darren Hamdley, fellow competitors and his support crew.
“And thanks to the fans and everyone that has encouraged me and cheered me on for all these years,” Fanning said.
He said he was looking forward to life away from the tour and evolving his own surfing, “visiting unfamiliar places and taking on different experiences”.
It’s time.I’ve decided the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be my last event as a full-time competitor on the World Surf…
One of Australia’s best-known surfers reached the pinnacle of his sport when he claimed world title wins in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
Fanning’s mother Elizabeth Osbourne said she was happy for her son.
“He’s had such an amazing career, no one could ask him to do anything else and I think he’s handled everything so professionally and I’m so proud of him. I’m glad he’s retiring if that’s what he wants to do,” she said.
“He’s the youngest of five and we’re a very close-knit family and he’s a really beautiful person that cares about other people.
“He’s a true champion in the sense of being a good human being and I’m just very happy that he followed his dream.”
Brush with death
Fanning famously fended off a shark attack at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa in 2015.
Dramatic vision viewed from around the world showed a shark thrashing in the water near Fanning during his final.
Fanning said he had punched and kicked out at the shark as it broke his leg rope.
“I just saw fin – I didn’t see the teeth, I was waiting for some teeth to come at me as I was swimming. I punched it in the back … I’m happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, to walk away from that, I’m just so stoked,” Fanning said after the event.
Eleven-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater watched on in disbelief.
“Now I have seen it all. It was surreal to me … it’s a big shark, a lot bigger than Mick,” he said at the time.
Fanning took on a reduced schedule the following year, but returned to the J-Bay Open to claim a memorable title win.
Overcoming tragedy on tour
Later that year Fanning again hit headlines when he competed in the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii only hours after learning about the death of his brother Peter.
Fanning said he was driven to compete in the event in honour of his eldest brother, but called the experience one of the most challenging days of his life.
Another of Fanning’s older brothers, Sean, died in a car accident in 1998.