Surf for Your Life draws a line in the sand for Mick Fanning. It’s an autobiography detailing how the current ASP World Champion surfer arrived at where he was in his life and career at the time of writing as well as a life manual, providing a detailed guide as to how you can apply some of Mick’s wisdom to your own surfing – and life.
A few weeks ago I chatted to Tim Baker, the co-author, about working with Mick and he described how lucid, coherent and detailed Mick’s own writing is. It’s a far cry from the stereotypical surfer-dude who might be able to bust an air but can’t spell ‘manoeuvre’ (thanks Microsoft Word for helping me with that).
As a reader you really get a sense of Mick’s true character shining through the book and, refreshingly, it lacks the narcissism and ego one might expect from a world champion surfer. In fact, Mick is incredibly humble and seems astonished by his own achievements despite his super-human tenacity, motivation and talent.
Having been dealt a comparatively fairly lousy hand Mick overcame adversity and tragedy that could quite easily drive another person to drink, drugs, complacency or worse. I know plenty who, in similar circumstances, have gone down dark roads to never quite return. But he places his faith in hard work, constant self-improvement and his team of closest allies who have helped him focus on what he does best – ride waves.
When the book was published in November 2009 Mick had incredibly and ominously just overtaken Joel Parkinson as ratings leader. The title race went down to the wire and, as we all know, was settled at Pipe when Joel lost his heat to Hawaiin Gavin Gillette, who scored a pristine Pipe pit in the dying moments. Mick was crowned for the second time and whilst he glowed with the stoke of victory he remained more humble than many others on the scene.
Personally I was inspired by Mick’s in-depth guide to the C.H.E.K. training regime he has undertaken to not only control his scoliosis (spinal curve) but to provide him with the perfect blend of strength, flexibility and balance for surfing. Serendipitously only days after finishing Surf for Your Life I crossed paths with a local Sydney-based C.H.E.K. trainer, Brad Rasmus of Primal Movement, and embarked on a training program which has had a transformational influence on my life. The C.H.E.K. philosophy covers everything from breathing through to hydration, psychology and movement. Truly, the breathing bit alone is worth checking it out for. But more about this in a future article.
Some say Mick is a precision contest machine who lacks creativity in his repertoire. Mick himself marvels at the manoeuvres being landed by the rad, new school crew. But anyone who has seen him carving walls at Snapper, charging caverns at Chopes or busting loose at D-bah will know that, on his day, Mick is one of the most well-rounded, fearless, talented and focussed surfers anywhere. His forehand hack is almost certainly the most precise and lethal in the business.
Surf for Your Life is a milestone in the evolution of a champion and a fascinating read. I can’t wait to see Mick back on tour when Snapper kicks off later this month. I’m sure Eugene (his alter-ego) has enjoyed the win but I know that ‘White Lightning’ will be undertaking some intense preparation for 2010. My call is that lightning will strike thrice. If not this year then definitely again in the great beyond. And it’s because Mick surfs for more than fame or fortune, for more than pleasure or hedonism, for more than the desire to be the best. Indeed he surfs for his life.