THREE-time world champion surfer, Mick Fanning, will step away from the world title race this year, but intends to defend his trophy at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach over Easter.
Fanning made the announcement last week, stating that he will view this year’s competition period as a “personal year” following a rollercoaster 2015 of events.
He came face-to-face with a shark during at Pipe Masters in December, and in January he announced the end of his eight-year marriage.
“I got to a point at the end of the year where I felt empty. I didn’t feel like I had much to give back,” Fanning said.
“This year, I’m going to take some time off and have a bit of a personal year just to regroup and “At this stage, I’m going to compete at Snapper and I’m going to compete at Bells and then I’m going to take some time off from there.
“(Snapper and Bells) are two events that I love and I’d go crazy if I were sitting at home and couldn’t go surf Snapper. Bells is like a second home as well.”
He has also indicated he will return to J-Bay in July and other events as needed to requalify for the World Surf League’s (WSL) 2017 season without using up a coveted wildcard.
“I don’t want to further confuse where they need to throw those things,” he said.
“If I can requalify through a handful of events then it takes that burden off the WSL.”