Words: Mimi LaMontagne
It was a dazed and confused morning. A thick fog draped itself over the perfect four-foot wedges of Le Penon, enveloping both surf and surfer. The aura of anticipation and exhilaration dwindled. Two and a half hours later, the first horn blew. Round one saw Slater conjure up a last second winner, Florez' an insurmountable cheer squad, T. Burrow's the chance to cash in on a backhand bonanza, along with various upsets in the order of pecking [Round Two Aranburu vs. Kerr]. By midday the sun blazed with full force, rapidly depleting any egg yolk brain-power remaining. Rather than plaguing a sterile attempt of pixilated amusement, I decided it might be best to leave the artifice to a triumphant, downright cheerful, Mick Fanning.
Mick. You’re a confident guy, but you seemed a bit nervous today. Talk to me.
When you lose your first heat, you start doubting yourself. It was just a tricky one. When you’re in the Title race you have more pressure, and the guys that don’t have that run more on emotion. Especially wildcards. You never can tell what they’re going to do because they don’t have to worry about points, it’s just one event that they gear up for. They’re usually local as well, so they have the crowd behind them. It can be really dangerous, emotionally, and you have to keep overcoming those emotions.
I try to think of myself as still having a long way to go, and a truckload of work to do. My mindset is that I have a number two or three on my back, and when you take away the throwaways I think that’s true. I feel a bit behind more than anything, and I think it helps. I thrive off of trying to better myself. That competitive nature is a weird thing to describe. With all of us competitors, it’s a personal thing that you have to decide how to approach. I mean, I get competitive in even the dumbest of things, even cook offs [MF makes a mean roast lamb].
How does that rivalry work between you and Kelly?
Kelly won last year, and it makes things a bit tricky. I mean, I’ve been competing against Joel since we were boys. We know we leave everything in the water, and we act like brothers. Disagreements at times, but that’s just how close we are. We forget about it ten minutes later and keep moving on. With Kelly, away from competition, he’s a really nice guy. We’re good friends, but when it comes to competition it’s a bit different. I just try to concentrate on myself I suppose, and get in the zone [My warm up involves twerking]. There’s no use on my concentrating on him. We’ve had heats where he’s tried to talk to me and I haven’t even looked at him. We’re both very competitive, but I still have a good relationship with him. He’s one of the most competitive humans I have ever met, and I feel privileged to have surfed with him. Sometimes you wish he wasn’t there, but deep down you’re glad. I don’t know what it’s like to be on tour without him, even when I was a wildcard. It means that I get to sit in the shadows, and that’s a good thing.
Can you attribute your success this year to a different mindset?
This year has also been a lot different for me as well. The year before last I wasn’t in a good way. I had some bad injuries and things just weren’t going right, in a few different areas. Last year I had a confidence boost, although the wheels fell off towards the end. In surfing, I felt that it was all heading the right direction. I came in with a lot of confidence, partially due to Parko’s year in 2012. I mean, he didn’t win an event until the final, and he won the World Title, going on to win the Pipe Masters. It’s helped me go to events and not freak out thinking that I need to get through ‘this’ heat. I haven’t had that pressure and it’s been great.
I also really love France, apart from the cigarettes. First off, you can take your dog anywhere. It’s incredible, I wish we could do it at home. Then the food, the wine, the beach breaks, and days like today when the weather is incredible. It’s the place to be, and I need to work on my tan anyways.
I remember the first time I ever came to France and I got up super early, at five or something. It was dead black. I was thinking that the sun should be out by six, and when it finally came up at seven it looked like a lake. I thought it might have been flat, but it was just before the time that you can see through the fog and onto the surf. I went back three hours later and it was four foot and perfect. I remember thinking, I just can’t figure this place out. It took me a good four or five years to get it, and it’s one of the best.
The Quiksilver Pro France runs from September 26 - October 6, watch it live here: http://quiksilverlive.com/profrance/2013/
REMAINING QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 MATCHUPS:
Heat 6: C.J Hobgood (USA) vs Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA) vs Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 9: Kai Otton (AUS) vs Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: John John Florence (HAW) vs Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastien Zietz (HAW) vs Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs Travis Logie (ZAF)
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.43 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.00
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.90 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.00
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.50 def. Marc Lacomare (FRA) 15.90
Heat 4: Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 15.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.47
Heat 5: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 17.66 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 15.06
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 15.27, Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.00, Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.43
Heat 2: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.77, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.80, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 9.83
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.80, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.17, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.60
Heat 4: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 13.67, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.50, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.50
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.76, Adam Melling (AUS) 15.40, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.50
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 17.40, Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.86, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.67
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.23, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.07, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 10.10
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.67, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 15.16, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.70
Heat 9: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 16.17, C.J Hobgood (USA) 15.33, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 15.26
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.34, John John Florence (HAW) 13.47, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.43
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.23, Nat Young (USA) 12.20, Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.13
Heat 12: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.90, Kai Otton (AUS) 13.67, Brett Simpson (USA) 12.06