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Mick Fanning Gets His Redemption at Jeffrey’s Bay

Fanning takes the win; confirms he’s got Wilko’s back in the Title race
Screenshot via Google

Mick Fanning has found redemption at Jeffrey's Bay—the very same place that he danced with the devil one year ago, stirring up a great white media circus around the world, kicking off a string of unfortunate life events that no person should ever have to deal with, especially in the public eye.

A lot of people questioned whether the CT, or Mick, would ever return to Jeffrey's Bay. It was a dumb question—Mick remained steadfast that he wanted to return, that he wanted to "right the wrongs" and put to bed any bad memories of this wave that he's grown so fond of over the years. It was clear that his mind was set—and when Mick sets his mind to something, there's no stopping him.


Arriving early to the event, he prepared himself both mentally and physically to not only paddle back out at J-Bay, but to paddle out in a competitive mindset—no distractions, full focus, all determination. And despite spraining his ankle just before the start of the event —an injury that would have seen many athletes pull out of the event—that's exactly what he's done.

Mick's near-perfect final round at this year's Jay Bay Open

He surfed a perfect event. No heat losses (in surfing a competitor can surf anywhere from six to eight heats each event, depending on whether they win in heat one and heat four). And at the end of it, he's become the best surfer in the history of Jeffrey's Bay, taking home the most trophies ever. If that's not redemption, then what is?

"It was really special hearing that count down, knowing that I won," Mick said after the win. "It was time to right the wrongs, and that's what was so amazing—but I couldn't have done it by myself. I'm so stoked to be back, and I'll always come back.

"It's fun playing the wildcard this year, because I'm not in for the title race. For me, this year is all about trying to put on a performance and pleasing myself every time I come out. It's a lot different not going for a world title and it feels a lot… lighter… hopefully that shows through in my surfing."

And it does—the weight of a world title always seeps through in a competitor's performance. Much like it may have with Hawaiian John John Florence, who lost to Mick in the final heat.


John is now sitting at number two in the world, closely nipping on the heels of Matt Wilkinson. Wilko has held the yellow jersey (number one) since the first event back in March—an exceptional length of time to be in possession of such a coveted spot.

If John had won today, he would be a mere 350 points behind Wilko on the rankings ladder—which means that if he completed just one heat more than Wilko in the next event, he'd be on top.

Nonetheless, John is sitting pretty and is more in-tune with his competitive side than ever. At the start of this year he told the world that he was actually going to try—he came out and said that he finally was ready to fight for a world title. For the first time. And it's clear that's what he's doing. Who was the first person out in the lineup each morning? John. Who was the last out at dusk? John. He's more dedicated than ever, he undoubtedly has the talent, and he's now number two in the world.

If there's any one threat to Wilko's yellow jersey, it's worth double, and it goes by TwoJohns.

It's an interesting dynamic though. Mick has said he's not in the title race this year—but whether he likes it or not, by surfing in these pet events, he's playing a role. Not only did he knock John, he also knocked Julian Wilson in the semifinals (again, redemption and closure from 2015), who, although is sitting at 9th in the world, is in the best competitive form we've ever seen. Don't discount him.

And it just so happens that Julian was also the one to knock Gabriel Medina out of the event in the quarterfinals—one of the only other surfers who, sitting at third in the world, has a real shot at nabbing the number one spot going into the back half of the year.

It's crunch time. And although today tells a story of redemption and closure for Mick, there's a lot more at stake now.

The next event is the Billabong Pro Tahiti and runs from August 19—30.