Mick Fanning claimed his second ASP World Title at the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii on Sunday, and before the celebrations began, RedBullSurfing.com caught up with the two-time World Champ to get his thoughts on the day and on his winning season...
First up, congratulations! How are you feeling right now?
To be honest, right now I'm a little emotional. I won the title 2007 but I wasn't sure how I'd feel the second time round; I thought I might have been a little more prepared but I wasn't. I guess the circumstances were pretty incredible with Joel [Parkinson] still in the running - when it was in the bag I was just really overwhelmed. It's been a pretty intense lead-up to this moment; I've been trying to maintain my composure and focus but the truth is, to be in that position the past couple of months has been pretty bloody stressful. I just can't believe it’s all over and I'm holding the World Title trophy again.
What was it like being out in the water with Joel as his heat and world title dreams came to an end and your dreams came true? [Parko had to make the Semifinals of the Billabong Pipeline Masters to have a shot at the World Title but was beaten by wildcard Gavin Gillette in round 3; as a result Mick claimed his second World Title].
I had mixed feelings. Obviously I was excited - I've had to fight so hard to get this win. But when Joel lost I really felt for him. He's a good mate, as everyone knows, and for us to both be vying for the World Title at the Pipeline Masters is a trip. At the end of it all one of us was always going to be on top of the world and the other was always going to be totally bummed. No matter what the outcome though, whoever didn't get the title was always going to be the first person to congratulate the winner. It was great to have Joel paddle straight up to me in the line-up after they announced the outcome. He had such an incredible year; if it wasn't for him suffering an injury I may not have had the opportunity to get my comeback started. I know he'll be right there again in 2010.
"I started to believe that with a couple of event wins I could get myself back in contention."
After winning the World Title you had to surf your round four heat against another good mate of yours, Dean Morrison.
It was special to be in the title race with Joel and have him in the water when I won, but to have Deano out there too was insane. I went to school with both those guys, we spent weekends at each other’s houses surfing together, we've been battling in competition since we were groms and we've travelled the world together. They're two of my best friends.
After winning the title it was really difficult to focus on the heat with Deano. I was trying to keep my head screwed on but I was all over the place and just looking forward to getting to the beach to celebrate with my wife, mum and friends. Deano got the win in that heat and I really hope he goes on to win the event. Joel's got a chance to win the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing so I hope the three of us can each take something from this last event. That would be epic.
It's tradition when an Australian wins an event or title that their countrymen chair them from the waters’ edge to the podium without the champ's feet touching the ground. Today you were chaired by Parko and Deano.
That was crazy. Joel was in the line-up when I won and he congratulated me there, but to have him come down to the shore break at the end of my heat and chair me up the beach with Deano was really special. That's a moment I'll never forget.
The day you won the ASP World Title in Brazil back in 2007 you said you had a good feeling about the day when you woke up. Did you have a similar feeling this morning?
Not at all. In 2007 I was a little further ahead of the pack and it hadn't all come down to the last event so I don't think I was quite as anxious. Today when I woke up I was super nervous and after seeing Joel's performances on the North Shore this Winter I was convinced the battle was going to go right to the end of the event. I tried to shut out what Joel was doing and concentrate on my own heats and strategy. I surfed before Parko in round 3 so that may have put some pressure on him, but his heat was a quiet one for waves and that worked in my favor.
Was your late brother Sean in your thoughts today?
Sean is always in my thoughts and today he was right there with me again. In those big special moments I always think about him and I think it actually helps me relax a little. A second World Title will make him proud!
At the halfway mark this year, you had not made a final while Parko had gathered three wins from the first five events. How did you turn it around?
To be honest, after Joel won the event at Jeffreys Bay I started to wave the white flag. However, luckily we had a solid break after South Africa and I had some time at home to regroup. I've got an incredible support crew in my corner and with their help I was able to shift my thinking. I started to believe that with a couple of event wins I could get myself back in contention. I decided to compete in the US Open before Trestles and I made the final and that's kind of when my good roll began.
After winning Trestles you took out France and then got your third win for the season at the Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal. You looked to be unstoppable.
I was feeling really good heading into the European leg: I had a magic board from DHD [Mick's surfboard designer], I was injury free and I was all juiced up on confidence after my win at Trestles. I also had my wife with me for the first two events in Europe so that helped me take my mind off the massive task of reeling Joel in. I couldn't have been better prepared for that leg.
After winning France I stumbled in Mundaka, but the conditions were horrible so I didn't let it get me down. As soon as I got knocked from the Mundaka event I split for Portugal. I didn't wait for anyone; I just piled all my stuff in the car and got out of there. Portugal was epic because the waves were big, heavy and barrelling. Joel did well in that contest too and if Bede hadn't knocked him in the Semifinals the race for the title might have been a lot closer coming into the Billabong Pipeline Masters.
How did you train for your successful 2009 World Title campaign?
I've been working with CHEK Australia for some years now and 2009 was no different. I've got a good understanding of CHEK training and my practitioners know me really well, so they're quick to identify what I need to work on physically and psychologically. I also trained with some of the high performance coaching staff at Red Bull this year and got a lot from what they had to offer.
The year is over for you now as far as events go and you're now a two-time ASP World Champion. How will you celebrate?
I'd be happy to just sit and look at this trophy for a while and let it all sink in but we'll party here on the North Shore tonight. Deano [Morrison] is getting married here in Hawaii so we'll stay and celebrate with them and then do it all over again when we get home.
Keep up with Mick and the rest of the Red Bull surfing team at RedBullSurfing.com.