In an upcoming interview with Tracks, Mark Richards rightfully suggests there has never been a more exciting time in surfboard design. If you want to you can wale down the line on a twinny, play around with extreme curves like Kelly, go single, get carbon wrapped and even dabble in asymmetrical designs. All are legitimate alternatives in an increasingly diverse surfboard world that once had everyone feeling like anything other than a standard thruster was a surfing sin. However, while the average surfer can build a quiver that blends retro sensations with the most cutting edge technology, it’s actually often the elite pros who miss out on the fun.

Such is the pressure to be familiar with craft that will perform consistently within a narrowly defined contest criteria, that many of the pros don’t get the chance to try all the different boards so many of us are riding.

According to shaper, Darren Handley, Mick Fanning is one surfer who is looking forward to experimenting with his craft in 2016. Adopting a part time approach to the tour means Mick will be at greater liberty to explore the possibilities of design.

“I’ve been making the same board for him for such a long time that I actually said to him that I’m sick of making him the same board and he said, ‘me too’. ” Darren recently told Tracks.

Darren indicated that preparing for a fully committed quest on the tour is usually a major process for surfer and shaper. “With the tour there’s only so many waves but you’ve really got to get your testing down and we do make them so light that he does break a few. That’s why we do a 100 boards for him a year… He enjoys surfboard design but he’s so committed to winning contests that our focus has really been on that.”

This year, we can expect to see Mick unleashing his power gouges on a much more diverse array of boards. “We’ll probably do like what Kelly and Dane have been doing and create some models for him to have fun on,” suggests Darren. “I think you are going to see a little more shorter, wider-nose, channel bottoms, swallow tails, even asymmetrical tails.”­

Although Darren didn’t confirm exactly what Mick would be riding, he hinted that Mick may even take a few risks with boards in the opening rounds of the Quiksilver Pro.

“In the Quiky pro he’ll probably ride the new rocker, which is basically his board with a lot more nose rocker and a lot more tail rocker, sort of bent in the middle a little bit which has allowed him to get a lot more tricky in the lip.” He’s also on diamond tails. I made him one; he loves it and put it away and I made him four more. I think the new rocker and diamond tails is what you might see him riding in the early rounds and then he can always go back to his trusty model.”

Most fans want to see Mick make a whole-hearted return to the WCT. To help rekindle the passion for competition he apparently plans to head to Alaska to tick off one of his bucket-list destinations. However, while intrepid holiday destinations might be an integral part of Mick rediscovering his contest Mojo finding fun right beneath his feet might prove to be just as important.

A huge thanks to Isuzu for providing the Tracks team with vehicles for the 2016 Quiksiliver Pro Gold Coast.