Flow striding Coxos. Photo:Alex Laurel
WHITE LIGHTNING BLUE COLLAR
Mick Fanning was touted for greatness appearing as a small, tow-headed Coolangatta grom in the late 90’s Rip Curl vids, but the difference between him and so many others being that he actually delivered. Two ASP World Titles (2007 & 2009), the first earned off the back of one of surfing’s favourite physical comebacks (Mick ripped his hamstring off the bone in deepest Indo) made him the first Australian to win multiple world titles since Damien Hardman backed up in the pre-WCT/WQS era. Heralded for down the line speed, a whipping forehand arc and fierce competitive drive, Mick’s comeback gave the Swiss ball pro surfing mass appeal, completely reinventing the ‘on the job’ contest ethic with mind coaches, precision limbering, a strict diet to combine for a thoroughly professional holistic approach. What made Mick’s fans love him all the more for it was not only the fact that it worked, but that he conspicuously broke from the professional veneer at his times of triumph, publicly celebrating his own success and thus putting a thoroughly human dimension on his professional persona. Roger Federer, he is not. The public may have a relatively hard time relating to a super-freakish sporting oddities or a raw unashamed talents, but every 9-5 surfer out there can see a bit of working-class-lad-come-good-Mick in himself. Hard working, human, vulnerable, triumphant. Joel tips him for raw natural talent and mastery of style, perhaps, but in terms of stature as a sportsman, Mick’s tale resonates louder for the masses.