Mick Fanning was the last Australian male to win a world crown – back in 2013. Now as Oz fans search for a new contender, it’s even easier to look back fondly on Fanning’s career, which included three world titles and countless high points. In issue 572 (on stands now) Mick talks openly about the secrets to his success, his views on the current state of Australian surfing and his intrepid lifestyle outside the tour. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

 Have you had that moment where you are at an airport and look up at a flight list with a bunch of locations and think, ‘Wow, I can go anywhere in the world I want right now?’

Yeah, many times… Even sitting at home as I’ve got an airport just up the road. Nowhere is too far at the moment. That’s the beauty of it. I block out these time frames knowing that’s when the places I want to go turn on, and I won’t commit too anything and people hate me for it. But I’ve been on someone else’s program for so long it’s time to get on my own one.

Photo: Simon Williams

Do you think young Australian surfers understand the entirety of what it takes – the commitment, the sacrifice and the energy – to be a contender for the title? It almost seemed like you had to make a conscious decision to go to a whole other level just to do it?

Yes and no. When you’re a grom you’re just so excited and so hungry to just surf every wave as hard you possibly can and learn. There’s definitely a time where you’ve got to make that switch. Am I going to be the guy making up the numbers or am I going to be a contender. You have to sit in front of the mirror and ask yourself what does it take to become that guy? You hear people saying ‘Yeah, I’m going for a world title,’ but you can see through the ones that are just saying it and the one’s that actually believe it, you know.

Mick Fanning and Ethan Ewing, one of the young surfers expected to fly the flag for Australia in the future. Photo: Simon Williams.

You often hear it said that Australian surfing needs a little bit more of that mongrel. It’s kind of an ugly word in a way but it does make sense in a sporting context.

You need that mongrel in you. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to have mongrel in you from somewhere. Where that comes from is up to you, because sometimes you’re going to need it. You don’t have to be an asshole but you’ve got to have that mongrel to never give up that fight.

What about the Balter Brewery? That’s another finger in a pie so to speak.  

I just had a board meeting the other day. I’m across everything that goes on but as I said I’m not day-to-day. I know the major things that are happening. Ant Macdonald our CEO he keeps us up to date. We meet every few weeks if he needs advice on anything and we’re all there to support.

Can you take credit for any of the beers – tasting and inspiring? Naa, not at all. I tell you what though there are some good beers coming out at the moment – I’m happy to do R’ and D’ for them, that’s 100% certain.

Read the full interview in Tracks issue #572. On Stands Now with the Tracks Beanie.