Mick Fanning to make 2016 a ‘personal year’

Tweed Heads champion surfer Mick Fanning takes a moment to look up to the heavens before his quarterfinal heat against Kelly Slater (USA) at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Thursday. Photo World Surf League

Tweed Heads champion surfer Mick Fanning will make 2016 a low-key year after his ‘annus horribilis’ in 2015. Photo World Surf League

SYDNEY – [AAP] Three-time world champion, Tweed’s Mick Fanning, plans to compete part-time in this year’s World Surf League – but he will return to the scene of his shark attack.

The 34-year-old will contest the first two events in Australia – at Snapper Rocks in Queensland and Bells Beach in Victoria – before skipping some others throughout the season as he makes 2016 a ‘personal year’.

Fanning was left feeling ’empty’ after a tumultuous 2015, during which he split from his wife, survived a shark attack in competition at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa and learned of his older brother Peter’s death while vying for the world title at the season-ending event in Hawaii, which he narrowly lost.

‘Last year was definitely intense … I got to a point at the end of the year where I felt empty,’ Fanning said.

‘I didn’t feel like I had much to give back.’

After some time away, Fanning said he would take stock to assess his emotions.

However he expects to return Jeffreys Bay to confront the demons of last year’s great white shark attack during the 2015 final, which was televised live and watched worldwide.

‘I feel like there’s something there that I want to go and face,’ he said.

‘I want to make sure that I scratch that off the list.’

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