Three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning says he won’t mind if he doesn’t win his final professional event, starting at Bells Beach on Thursday.
Fanning has already won four Bells titles and three world championships, but the hunger to compete is no longer there.
“I’m not too fussed [about winning],” Fanning said.
“I just want to go out there and put on a good performance.”
It may be just some final gamesmanship as the man who is renowned for his competitiveness on tour prepares to bow out at the same location where it all began.
Fanning rose to world surfing prominence after winning his first Bells title as a teenage wildcard entry in 2001.
He brought a new level of competitiveness to the sport and quickly became known as “White Lightning” for the way he attacked the wave.
“The first time competing at Bells, I was just in awe – I got to surf against my heroes,” he said.
“Every time I paddle out at Bells, there so much history so I really just want to take in the moments that happen.”
Fanning has become as big a part of that history as anyone, winning the title a record-equalling four times in 2001, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
But following his infamous encounter with a shark in South Africa in 2015 and the death of his brother later that year, Fanning took time away from the sport.
The competitive urge had been waning even before the shark incident but he admits he needed to build up the courage to call time on his career.
Ready to enjoy some ‘new adventures’
He returned to the World Surf League tour last year, finishing 12th on the championship standings before announcing his intention to retire at the end of this year’s Bells Beach event.
“It is something that’s been going on in my mind for a few years now and it was always the idea to come and finish at Bells,” he said.
“Now I’m ready to go and enjoy some new adventures.”
World champion surfer Tyler Wright heaped praise on Fanning.
“I just love the human that he is,” she said.
“The challenges that he’s faced and his ability to work through things and to still remain the human that he is today, it’s pretty incredible.”
But as he prepares to paddle off into the sunset, Fanning isn’t buying into what sort of mark he has left on the sport.
“They can remember me any way they want,” he said.
“It’s not up to me, I just had my career and I always tried to do my best.”