Australian surfing legend Mick Fanning has missed out on a fairytale ending to his career with a record fifth win at Bells Beach, losing out to Brazil Italo Ferreira in the final of the Rip Curl Pro.
The 36-year-old three-time ASP World Tour champion came out of the water for the last time as runner-up, giving Ferreira his first world tour win. It bookends a career that began with Fanning receiving a wild card entry to the Rip Curl Pro in 2001 and stunning everyone by taking out the title. His four wins at Bells are only matched by veteran American Kelly Slater.
Fanning would recover from a potentially career-ending hamstring injury and go on to become world champion in 2007, 2009 and 2013. He was named Australian Male Surfer of the Year six times between 2002 and 2011 and won 22 Tour tournaments.
But today Fanning went down 15.66 to 12.83 to the 23-year-old Brazilian who many believe has world champion potential.
The Australian emerged from the water waving to the cheers of the large crowd who’d come to see the “White Lightning” do battle for the last time.
Always the gentleman, Fanning paid tribute to man who beat him saying: “Just to see how much it meant to Italo made me feel a lot better”.
The two hugged in the water after their final ended.
While he won’t miss 6.30am starts, Fanning said he leaves the sport with “so many great memories”.
“Not only in the surf but on land and travelling with people, so thank you,” he said.
Here’s his last pro ride, watched by fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore, who took out the women’s title at this year’s Rip Curl Pro, her fourth.
— World Surf League (@wsl) April 5, 2018
Three years ago, Fanning hit global headlines when he fought off a great white shark attack on live TV during the finals of the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
In a difficult 2015, Fanning was competing at the Pipe Masters in Hawaii in December when he woke to news that his eldest brother, Peter, had died in his sleep, then headed out into the surf and won his heat.
As for his future, top of the list he reckons it will take around two years to send text messages to everyone he wants to thank and acknowledge after 17 years on the circuit.
As his impressive career comes to an end, fans and colleagues paid tribute to a man who was more than just a brilliant surfer.
— denise ???? (@Dennessey) April 5, 2018
Thanks for the memories, the Inspiration, the Belief, the Hope, The Fight, the warmth, the love in your surfing and love for riding waves. Thanks for being you Mick @mfanno You will always be a Champion person , surfer and hero of mine, Have a ball in your next chapter… going to miss going for the early around events with you???? #CheersMick ✌
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