After taking a step back on the Championship Tour in 2016, where he surfed only five events, Mick Fanning today confirmed his full-time commitment to the 2017 WSL Championship Tour.
“I’ve decided to come back to competition full time and do the Tour this season. It was nice to have 2016 off somewhat and decompress, but I’m excited to put the singlet on again.“
The 3x World Champion suffered a very difficult 2015 season marked by the J-Bay Open shark attack, the loss of Peter, his older brother, and a runner-up finish to the title race facing Adriano de Souza.
“2015 was a tough year,” Fanning said. “A lot happened to me on camera and in my personal life. I just felt exhausted by the end of it. Fortunately, I was in a position to step away from the Tour and have some time to myself. I ended up doing a few events and qualifying which was great because I didn’t want to take the wildcard off of Bede (Durbidge) or Owen (Wright). I’m coming into 2017 seeded 18th which will be a change for me.”
“Even with the 2017 season looming, I wasn’t sure I was motivated enough to take part,” Fanning said. “However, like everyone else I’m getting super excited about this year’s line-up of surfers – it might be the best field from the top seed to number 34 we’ve ever had. I also think it’s the biggest group of legit title contenders we’ve ever seen on the tour ever and I want to be part of the race.”
“The most important thing to me is to me is making sure my surfing keeps evolving and the tour, now more than ever, is the best place to do that.” Fanning said. “In recent years I managed to find good balance between competitive focus and having fun. Getting switched on for events this year will be the key for me. I don’t think it will be a problem. It’s not in my nature to be half-hearted so now that I’m committed I’ll be doing everything I can to get a win.“
Kelly Slater, 11x World Champion, sees Mick Fanning as one contender for the 2017 World Title. Like Mick, Kelly expressed his will to chase a new & 12th Title earlier this year.
If Mick (Fanning) is in 100% I’d put him right at the top of the heap. You’d be silly to not think Mick is Top 3 in the world right now. All things considered. Having won at so many different breaks and being so dominant at places like Bells and Jeffreys Bay, there’s no way he’s not a contender. Slater said.