n surfer Mick Fanning at the Corona Open J-Bay at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Photo: AAP Image/World Surf League, Kelly CestariIt’s not all surfing and sharks for Mick Fanning.
There’s alsobeerand cars, adding to a career (let’s call it a lifestyle) he somewhat casually agrees is pretty good.
“What else do you need?” he laughs.
The Aussie almost as famous for punching a shark as he is for his three world surfing championships has lots more keeping him busy in between waves.
A recently announced partnership with Mercedes-Benz – where he will represent vehicles such as the Marco Polo camper and upcomingX-Class ute– provides fresh opportunities. And a way to arrive at the beach in style.
Your shoutThen there’s the Balter beer business, founded in 2016 with the help of three surfing mates – Bebe Durbridge, Josh Kerr and Joel Parkinson –and named after a word Fanning randomly stumbled upon on Pinterest.
While the image of the brewed-on-the-Gold Coast beers is all about mates sharing a laugh, Fanning acknowledges there is hard work behind the starkly presented cans.
“It can get testing, but we’ve been really lucky and haven’t had any problems so far,” he says of what appears to be a perfect partnership. “When you start a business you’re always very wary about business and friendship can erupt sometimes.”
But he says there’s plenty of brains behind the quartet of surfers that are the face of the brand.
“We have other people in place to … steer the ship. We’re pretty much just cheerleaders with pom poms.”
Mick Fanning’s unforgettable encounter in South Africa. Photo: Association of Surfing Professionals
Surf’s upRather than a job or a hobby Fanning describes surfing as a lifestyle.
“If I didn’t go and compete I’d still be surfing anyway.”
He has put his life on the line many times, including at some of the world’s most dangerous breaks.
“As you progress you always want to keep pushing your boundaries,” he says of the decision to surf mega waves with plenty of danger lurking beneath the surface.
“Pipeline and places like Teuhupoo in Tahiti, that’s pretty much it; you want to go and challenge yourself in those waves.”
His new venture with Mercedes-Benz will see the surfer putting their X-Class ute to the test. Photo: Supplied/Executive Style
Not about the winBut these days he says he is more aware of when things are too dangerous.
“Some guys are dead-set crazy but for me I kind of make calculated risks,” he says. “Because I’ve experienced it so many times I can calculate a little bit better –but I still put myself in stupid places!”
That said, his once intense focus on winning titles has waned because it wasn’t as fulfilling as it once was.
“It’s definitely different to where it was a few years ago. It’s more about enjoying my time there … now it’s more about personal performance and going out there and doing the best I can and coming in and feeling good about that rather than if I win or not.”
Mick Fanning with his game face on at the Margaret River Pro in 2015. Photo: Mark Boskell
Driving forceEarly in 2018 Fanning will get behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz’s first ever ute, the X-Class.
Expected to cost up to $80,000, it’s very different to his first car, a Ford Laser built in 1981, the year he was born.
While he’s never owned two of the most famous surf mobiles in – a Holden Sandman or a Volkswagen Kombi – he says he’s always been interested in cars, and he likes driving.
Moving up a classFortuitously, Fanning has a soft spot for utes, having once owned a V8-powered Commodore SS ute.
“That was sort of where I started getting into putting everything in the tray and keeping the front clean.”
The X-Class will be a big step up.
“The car fits in perfectly with my lifestyle, having all the wet boards and wetsuits and everything in the back and being able to keep the front clean.”
More waves to goHe’s a man that’s made his life on the waves of the world – but Fanning isn’t done with surfing yet.
At 36 he jokes that he has at least a couple of years of competitive surfing left in him yet, probably more.
And despite surfing on some of the world’s best beaches Fanning says there are many more waves to surf – and plenty of locations he wants to visit.
“There’s a lot of waves in the world I really want to go and surf,” he says, nominating European hot spots such as Madeira Island and Sardinia.
“Sort of mix surfing with culture a bit,” he smiles.
n surfer Mick Fanning of during a press conference ahead of the Corona Open J-Bay at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Photo: AAP Image/World Surf League, Kelly Cestari
Kick back, and enjoyBut he’s increasingly happy to look beyond the waves.
“I’ve been trying to go and put myself in places that I never thought I’d get to. We went into the wild in South Africa, which was really fun and learnt how to track rhinos and lions and elephants and learn about all the problems they’re having over there with anti-poaching and stuff.”
More than anything, it seems Fanning is a man on a mission to enjoy life.