Three-time world champion Mick Fanning has given a young fan more than he bargained for, gifting him the surfboard he had just used in his second-last event before retiring.
His last competition will be at Bells Beach, the site of his first tour win in 2001
Footage of the exchange tweeted by World Surf League shows the stunned youngster standing in the shallows to greet the surfer as he wades out of the water at Snapper Rocks on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Hurriedly recapping a pen he likely intended for an autograph, the boy quickly changes tack.
“Really?” the surprised fan said when Fanning handed him the board.
— Duncan Huntsdale (@duncs_h) March 14, 2018
Fanning announced he would be retiring from the sport in February via social media.
The 36-year-old made it through to the fourth round at the Gold Coast Pro, defeating American Conner Coffin in the third round, but was later eliminated from the competition.
He finished third behind defending champion Owen Wright and Brazilian Tomas Hermes.
Speaking earlier, he said it was easy to be motivated with so little work time left.
“I figure I’ve only got three weeks of work left so you might as well give it your all … it’s all feeling pretty good,” he said.
“I’m at home. I want to put on a good show for friends and family back here.”
Fanning has just one more event left in his competitive career at Bells Beach – the same beach where he won his first tour in 2001.
One of Australia’s best-known surfers, Fanning famously fended off a shark in South Africa in 2015.
He was also plucked from the water at the same South African beach last year when he had another close call with a shark.