Two much loved Gold Coast surfers, Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore, are both approaching 2016 with some degree of uncertainty. For Steph Gilmore, 2015 plateaued after she sustained an injury to her knee at the Margaret River Pro early in the year and was unable to continue competing. Mick Fanning experienced quite the opposite – a year loaded with ups and downs, trials and tribulations. Garnering – if only by chance and not by choice – the role of surfing’s aussie battler, he has experienced more media attention than ever before in his long career. Steph Gilmore, on the other hand, has been hanging back, quietly observing the goings on from the WSL sidelines, waiting for the right time to get back on the horse.

After a turbulent year of shark dodging, family tragedy and missing out on the world title by a smidgen, Fanning must surely be feeling a little wrecked. Can he make use of the tough times as fuel for the fire, and head into the new year with an even stronger resolve? Or could a sabbatical be a better option? Speculation abounds, but what we know of Fanning from years past is that he has a mindset to overcome adversity. When he tore his hamstring muscle clean off the bone in 2009 and had a year in recovery, he bounced back stronger than ever to win his first world title. He expressed gratitude for the time he got to spend free-surfing that year off tour – saying it reignited his love for surfing. His current situation is by no means similar, having lost yet another sibling in December. It goes without saying though, the man’s got a knack for finding the positive in a shit situation.

Whether or not taking a break works in her favour is yet to be seen for Steph Gilmore. She’s expressed frustration with having to watch the results unfold from the outside in, feeling somewhat unsatisfied with the inaction of her year. Carissa Moore certainly finished her year flying high – firstly winning her third title, then winning the women’s division at the Pipe Masters before being honoured by the Mayor of Honolulu with her own day. The Hawaiian is looking as clear-headed and confident as ever, and Steph must have her wits about her if she hopes to clinch another title in 2016. Steph candidly expressed mixed emotions at watching Carissa’s success throughout the year in this interview. Of course she coverts the title, but can she channel those feelings towards creating new drive to win? Sometimes the pressure is higher when you’re balancing precariously in the number one position, and it can work in your favour to be the one coming up rather than the one looking back. Perhaps Steph can follow in the footsteps of her fellow Coolie comrade Mick Fanning, and climb her way back to the top.