Mick Fanning, shoes off and sipping a take-away coffee, appears as if he’s been clutching clear quartz close to him.
The crystal, known as the “master healer” in wellness circles, is said to amplify energy and intention. Two things Fanning is radiating right now.
“Life is great,” the 36-year-old surfing and shark-punching legend tells The Sun-Herald. Adding a six-month sabbatical has “definitely” changed his outlook. He’s finally started to “let go” following several close encounters with sharks at Jeffreys Bay, the death of his brother and the breakdown of his marriage.
“It wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to things that happened in 2015, it was a build up of things that had been happening over the years,” he says. “I felt the need for a break coming on for a few years. I sat down with a mate and said, ‘I think I need a breather’, but I always had that fear of when to do it. It all sort of just came to a head. I was tired and I didn’t have anything left so that was the perfect time.
“We think about work, we think about just living day to day. Trying to break that cycle was extremely scary because I didn’t know what was going to happen, what was life going to look like? But it was really enlightening in the fact that everything always turns out OK.
“It was great to just be a passenger for a while. My whole career I’ve been in control of where I’m going, where I’m staying. So a lot of the time I was in the back seat and didn’t even know where I was going half the time,” he says of his time off that led him to Alaska, twice, Norway and Ireland.
But relaxed is an unfamiliar state for the over-achieving Fanning. Being “kidnapped” by his mate, surf filmmaker Taylor Steele, in 2013 for three weeks helped prepare him for this next, more mindful, chapter.
“I didn’t know anything. All I got told was when I would be home. We went to seven different countries in three weeks and did some wild, wild stuff. We went and sat with the gorillas in Rwanda and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. We did some dumb things, too, running with the bulls was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
He’s also laid back about his less than stellar return to the world tour, where he is a 16-year champion and the latest inductee into the Surfers Hall of Fame.
Fanning is ranked 11th in the championship race midway through the season. In the six events so far this year he’s not made it past the quarter-finals.
As he prepares for the Tahiti Pro this week, he admits being back in the surf is an adjustment and is toying with the idea of retirement, ruling out a tilt at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I didn’t know if I liked it or not,” he says. “The first two events at the start of the year, I guess, I was trying to do the same things I had done in the past, that I knew would get results. But it felt like I was lying to myself, so I didn’t enjoy it and then I did really bad in those two events so I just had to sit down, scrap it and start all over again. It feels a lot better now, just changing it all up.”
He’s also evolving onshore with his brewing company and a new job as the ambassador of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz Vans X-Class ute.
His review of what will be the most expensive ute in : “It’s better than a horse and cart.”