Cheers Mick. Photo: Courtesy of Grant Ellis/SURFER

The day has officially come where Mick Fanning hangs up the jersey and rides into the sunset. And “White Lightning” does so where his professional surf career truly started: at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Fanning, 36, won the Bells Beach event as a wildcard in 2001. That victory catapulted him into his competitive career in which he would ring four Bells trophies, claim three world titles, win 22 Championship Tour events, finish within the top five 11 times and finish in the top ten 13 times.

It was truly an incredible competitive career that saw Fanning at the forefront of surfers beginning to actively train and up their fitness game. He was arguably one of the first pro surfers to think (and act) like a modern-day athlete.

And Fanning certainly battled adversities throughout his life and professional surfing career. He tore his hamstring off of the bone back in 2004 and faced a huge uphill rehab, he lost two brothers, and in 2015 he survived a frightening shark encounter with a great white during competition at the J-Bay Open.

During the 2018 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Fanning certainly gave fans on heck of a show in his last event. While he came up just short of ringing his fifth bell to become the most winning Bells surfer of all-time, Fanning had an electric run into the finals. But it was 23-year-old Brazilian, Italo Ferreira that took the win.

However, a celebration of Fanning’s illustrious career (which began and ended on the same beach) was what the 2018 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach was all about.

“It’s been an amazing career and I want to thank everyone along the way,” Fanning said during his post-heat interview. “I’ve learned so much and I walk away so many great memories.”

Thank you Mick, for all the inspiration, entertainment and the love you gave to surfing over the years. You will be missed on the CT.

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