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Michael Eugene Fanning AO, nicknamed "White Lightning" (born June 13, 1981) is a former Australian professional surfer. Fanning won the 2007, 2009 and 2013 ASP World Tour. In 2015 he survived an encounter with what is suspected to be a great white shark during the J-Bay Open finals in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Mick Fanning
Mick Fanning.jpg
Personal information
BornMichael Eugene Fanning
(1981-06-13) 13 June 1981 (age 38)
Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
NicknameWhite Lightning
ResidenceChristchurch, South Island, New Zealand
Height177 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight75 kg (165 lb)
Surfing career
Years active2002–2018
Best yearASP World Champion – 2007, 2009, 2013
Career earnings$2,796,120
SponsorsRip Curl, Reef Footwear, Creatures of Leisure Accessories, Dragon Eyewear, Red Bull Zen Nutrition, Skullcandy, AUDI, FCS traction and fins
Major achievements3 times ASP World Champion 2007, 2009 and 2013
6 times Australian Male Surfer of the Year 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Surfing specifications
StanceNatural (regular) foot
Shaper(s)Darren Handley and Wade Tokoro
Quiver5'11" x 18 5/8" x 2 1/4"
Favourite wavesAny pointbreak
Favourite maneuversHacks and tubes


Early yearsEdit

Fanning was born on 13 June 1981 in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia,[1][2] to Irish parents.[3] He learned to surf from the age of five, but did not focus on surfing until his family moved to Tweed Heads, New South Wales, when he was twelve. He grew up with fellow professional surfer, Joel Parkinson, in the Gold Coast/Northern Rivers region and attended Palm Beach Currumbin State High School together. On the Queensland border, Fanning had access to surf north and south and he began to make a name for himself. In 1996 he established himself as one of the best surfers on the Queensland points by placing in the top three at the Australian National Titles. Tragedy struck in 1998 when his brother Sean died in a car accident along with fellow surfer Joel Green.[4]

Professional careerEdit

Fanning received a wild card entry at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in 2001, winning one of Australia's leading contests. He finished 2002 as Rookie of the Year, winning the Billabong Pro at Jeffrey's Bay and earning himself a place on the 2002 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour as World Qualifying Series (WQS) Champion.

Fanning suffered a hamstring tear in 2004. It was surgically repaired and he made a comeback to become one of the leading surfers on the ASP world tour.[4]

The year 2007 marked Fanning's sixth year on the ASP World Tour since 2002 and his ninth year on the ASP WQS since 1998. He began his 2007 World Title campaign (WCT) with a victory at the Quiksilver Pro, the first event on the 2007 ASP World Tour, putting himself on top of the ratings. He won the Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil on 6 November 2007 placing above Taj Burrow and Kelly Slater therefore clinching the 2007 ASP world title.[2] In 2008 he suffered a mid-season groin injury. He slipped to eighth position on the end of year ratings. In 2009, Fanning reclaimed the ASP World Champion crown at the Pipeline reef break on Oahu’s North Shore. Although Fanning was eliminated by fellow Australian Dean Morrison in Round 4, his points lead from winning three of the last four events was enough to secure victory. In 2013 he had a victory in Round five, and made the quarter-finals at the Billabong Pipeline Masters.[5]

On 3 December 2015, Fanning claimed his first World Qualification Series (WQS) victory in Hawaiian surf by winning the 2015 Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach, Oahu.[6]

According to an interview with WideWorld magazine, Fanning's favourite surf spots in Australia include Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast, Bells Beach in Victoria and Gnarloo in Western Australia.[7]

Encounter with sharkEdit

On 19 July 2015, Fanning encountered a shark two minutes into the J-Bay Open 2015 finals at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Fanning was in the water with Julian Wilson during the final when what was suspected to be a great white shark swam next to him. Fanning punched the shark and tried to wedge his board between the shark and his body.[8] The shark eventually bit off Fanning's leash and Fanning started his attempt to flee back to shore.[8] Wilson paddled towards Fanning to assist him and was praised for his action and hailed as a hero.[9] Much of the early coverage characterized the encounter as a "shark attack." Based on analysis of the video and the fact that Fanning was not bitten, some marine biologists believe the shark had no intention of biting him.[10]

A response team quickly rescued him from any further danger by scaring the shark away with a boat and picking up both Fanning and Wilson, who was still in the water nearby. Both surfers escaped unharmed and were given a shared victory, splitting the prize-money. Following the ordeal, Wilson gave a tear-filled interview. When he was asked, "You guys are locked in a title battle right now, and to put things into perspective does that mean anything to you at this point in time?", Wilson replied "No, not at all, I'm just happy he's alive."[11] The event was cancelled.[12]

The next day, Fanning returned to Australia. He wondered why the shark did not bite him[8] and told reporters: "I'm just lucky it wasn't my time."[8] The story received international news coverage.[8] Fanning returned to the water to surf again less than a week later,[13] dedicating it to his late brother, and also surfed Ship Stern Bluff on 27 August,[14] a break notorious for great white sharks. Fanning later competed in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, which took place in August 2015 in Tahiti. Fanning would go on to take a victory at the Hurley Pro at Trestles Beach and finish the year 2nd in the ratings. [15]

Personal lifeEdit

Fanning was married for eight years to entrepreneur Karissa Dalton.[16] On 31 January 2016, he announced that they were divorcing.[17]

Fanning is co-owner of Balter Brewing Company with Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr and Bede Durbidge.[18] Fanning is a supporter of the National Rugby League club Penrith Panthers.[19][20]


In 2017 Fanning was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to surfing as a professional competitor at the national and international level, and as a supporter of a range of charitable foundations.[21]

Career victoriesEdit


  1. ^ "Pro Surfer: Mick Fanning". World Surf League. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Red Bull Surfing". Surf magazine. 21 July 2015. Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Interview with Mick Fanning". Tonnta: the Irish Surf Magazine (28). 2008.
  4. ^ a b Fanning, Mick; Naker, Tim (2009). Surf For Your Life – the biography of Mick Fanning. Random House Australia. ISBN 978-1-74166-927-5.
  5. ^ Wardrop, Murray (13 December 2009). "Mick Fanning crowned ASP World Champion in perfect surf at Pipeline". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Mick Fanning Claims First Event Win at Vans World Cup". World Surf League. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Mick Fanning's best surf breaks". Wideworldmag. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Mick Fanning speaks of 'miracle' survival after arriving back in Sydney following shark attack". ABC. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  9. ^ Ting, Inga (20 July 2015). "Surfer Julian Wilson hailed as hero after shark attacks Mick Fanning". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (22 July 2015). "That viral shark attack video is everything we get wrong about sharks". Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  11. ^ Hoffman, Bill; Moffat, Nicky (20 July 2015). "He 'never paddled so fast in his life' says Wilson's mum". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  12. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella; Cotovio, Vasco (19 June 2015). "Competition canceled after surfer Mick Fanning escapes shark attack". CNN. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  13. ^ Quinn, Liam; Noble, Freya (25 July 2015). "'First surf back. Feels so good': Australian surfer Mick Fanning makes an emotional return to the water less than a week after horrific shark attack – and dedicates his first surf back to 'brother' who died". Daily Mail. Australia.
  14. ^ "Mick Fanning tackles a new type of monster at Shipstern Bluff". 9 News. 27 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Mick Fanning's surfboard shaper says the shark attack won't keep him out of the water". Perth Now. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  16. ^ MacDonald, Andrew (17 March 2008). "Media wiped out as world champ weds". The Gold Coast Bulletin. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  17. ^ Noble, Freya. "'I have nothing but love and respect for this woman': Surfer Mick Fanning and his bridal designer wife Karissa announce the end of their eight-year marriage after horrific shark attack and the death of his brother". Daily Mail. Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  18. ^ Dalton, Trent (30 April 2016). "Balter brewery: Mick Fanning and his mates making beer". The Weekend Australian. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia" (PDF). Australia Day 2017 Honours List. Governor-General of Australia. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Fanning wins ASP surf tourney in France". United Press International. 27 September 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  23. ^ "Fanning Wins Rip Curl Pro Search". CNN Sports Illustrated. TransWorld Surfing. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2010.

External linksEdit