After taking most of the 2016 season off, 3x World Champion Mick Fanning decided to return to full-time competition in 2017, announcing he had every intention of capturing a fourth Title this season. Given the remarkable performances he turned in at Bells Beach and J-Bay during his "off year" that kind of claim from Fanning must have seemed ominous to the rest of the pack. But then Fanning opened his season with back-to-back early exits at Snapper Rocks and Margaret River, and something seemed amiss. Turns out, Fanning's tried and true approach would have to be modified.
"I felt like I was really forcing it. I thought I could just come back and do the same things and it would feel completely natural again, and it just didn't," Fanning admitted. "I felt like it just wasn't right. So after Margaret's, I went home and just scrapped it. Freed it up a bit."
While he can still morph into the hyper-focused freak that he is, Fanning's widening his focus a bit, just to soak in a little more of the fun, and by letting it in he's starting to find a new way to win. He's earned back-to-back fifth place finishes, so things are clearly starting to click, and that is something that should give anyone in front of Fanning a healthy dose of fear.