You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Mick Fanning wins surf event in J-Bay one year after shark attack

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/07/2016

Mick Fanning has capped an extraordinary return to the scene of last year's shark attack, winning the World Surfing League event at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Fanning fought off what was believed to be a great white shark in the disbanded contest final of 2015, eventually fleeing the water uninjured with fellow Australian Julian Wilson.

Today Fanning beat Hawaiian John John Florence in the final after taking out good friend Wilson in the semi-final.

In variable small swell, which saw the contest drag into its 11th day, Fanning beat Florence 17.70 points to 17.13.

Florence had beaten another Australian, Josh Kerr in the other semi-final.

An almost zen-like calm enveloped Fanning after the decider, the 35-year-old speaking in relaxed tones of his relationship with Wilson.

"You know, having a semi-final with Julian, that was really special. He's a great guy. He's one of those guys who always has your back. It's really special to have friends like that," Fanning said of Wilson, who came to his aid when the shark began to circle the three-time world champion.

As for the enormity of winning in such emotional circumstances, Fanning said he'd made an early call to come back to J-Bay and was always going to stick by it.

"I'm just stoked that I actually got to come back and right the wrong - that was my whole plan, was to just to right to wrongs that happened last year. And we did that now, so we can move on," he said.

"It just feels a lot lighter not going for the world title and not having that pressure on."

Fanning, on a reduced schedule this year after a difficult 12 months that included the shark attack, death of his brother and break-up of his marriage - overcame even more complications on the eve of the round six event after hurting his ankle while free-surfing.

He was even seen wearing a moon boot after the mishap though showed few signs of injury in a fluid three rounds today in which he beat Brazil's Filipe Toledo, Wilson and then Florence to snatch his first win of the season.

In what he labelled his "personal year" Fanning has thus far surfed in four of the six events, until Saturday securing a best finish of third at Bells Beach, Victoria.

Despite the win, Fanning confirmed he would only surf one more event this season.

"I've already said I'll go to Trestles (California) and that will be my last event of the year," he said.

"World titles aren't the biggest thing for me any more." Fanning, who went from 16th to fifth in the world rankings with the victory, was watched from the shore by his mother, Elizabeth Osborne. Australian Matt Wilkinson still leads the men's standings after six events.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon