Exclusive Interview with Mick Fanning for KSC 50th Anniversary

Mick Fanning surfing for Kirra in the Jim Bean Surf Tag on Saturday 14th January 2012 at D’bah. Photo: Wes Lonegran

Words and Interview by Andrew McKinnon

Dual World Champion Mick Fanning will join past and current members in celebrating the Kirra Surfriders Club 50th anniversary on Saturday 28th of January on top of Kirra Hill in the Cultural Centre.

Mick and his brothers Ed and Sean joined Kirra in the early nineties when the Fanning family moved to Coolangatta from Ballina.

There’s no denying that joining the Kirra Club helped Fanning’s surfing immeasurably and that the uniquely Australian grass-roots level of club competition developed his competitive skills.

Mick was down at D-Bah last Saturday to represent Kirra in the Jim Beam Surf Tag Teams Challenge.

It was the first time Mick had competed since withdrawing from the Hawaiian Triple Crown and Pipeline Masters with to a nagging neck injury and possible burnout due to back to back events at the tail end of the 2011 ASP World Tour.

Looking fresh and recharged after the break, the man they call “White Lightning” was back to his best posting the single highest wave score a 9.5 to win a 7 day trip to theMaldives. Despite the massive effort for his club, Kirra’s age-long rivals the Snapper Rocks Surfriders with the help of fellow Cooly mate Joel Parkinson won the one-day club competition, with Byron Bay Boardriders securing second place with assistance from Pipe Masters Champion Kieren Perrow. Kirra placed third after winning this event for the last three years. The newly-formed breakaway club, the D-Bah boardriders, were fourth, Le-Ba with Owen Wright and Adam Melling came in fifth and Snapper B with Occy was sixth. All six clubs will duke it out for the big prize at Ballina in late February.

Andrew McKinnon caught up with Mick at the event to find out about his club’s upcoming 50th reunion and how the Kirra Surfriders have helped turn him into the surfer he is today…

AM – When did you join Kirra?
MF – I think it was about 17 years ago now, when I first moved up from Ballina and joined. It’s been good and hilarious; we would go to The Patch (notorious Greenmount Hotel Beer garden, now defunct) for our meetings! I always remember Tommy Peterson (Michael’s younger brother) coming up with the most random calls ever. It was so funny! There have been different people as Presidents over the years like Poe Cross, Darryl Green, and Ray Manicarus.  The good old boy’s Danny Tukino, Jason Frost, Craig ‘Scat’ Pitchers, those guys lead the way for us as groms and taught us all about being in a club and the different rivalry’s that were already there with Snapper and stuff like that.  It was really cool and great to be part of Kirra. Some of the friends I met in the club are still good friends today and yeah, it’s been fun!

Joining Kirra obviously helped you and Sean (Mick’s late brother who died in a car accident in 1998 with fellow KSC member Joel Green)?
Yeah, definitely.  When we first joined up it was super intercompetitive surfing and I was already into other sports at the time like soccer.  Sean was coming on really strong and made the Aussie Titles at the time.  It definitely helped having the support of a club that was really, really strong as a kid helping up to get to events and paying for training here and there. It’s been great!

You’ve been a big part of the club’s history…
Yeah I guess so. (laughs)

I would imagine that there have been many memorable moments, are there any that come to mind?
So many.  The first trip away was so funny when it use to be the Quiksilver Surf League and I went down to Cronulla and Avoca a couple of times.  I don’t know why but we had Tommy Peterson as our head coach!  He came up with some good stuff. Mate, he was so funny. Probably the best time was when Tommy accosted a couple of the boys including my brother Ed when they went out on the town and partied too long. We had to drive home and Tommy cracked it and somehow he found them and when he did he clipped them over the head!  It was such a comedy and by the time everyone got back on the bus everyone was friends again.

So lots of character-building in the Kirra Club…
Yeah definitely Tommy, Danny and Frosty were always getting up to some mischief. Great characters like Jason Spence; there were heaps of guys like that for me in my first few years in the club and helped me to learn some valuable lessons.
It’s great that the ASP have allowed for the likes of you, Parko, Kieren, Owen etc. to surf for your clubs outside of the world tour events.
I think it’s great for us to be able to come back and to give back to the clubs that helped us along the way. I think that club surfing in Australia is the thing that grooms the kids at such a young age and teaches them about competitiveness and also the friendship within the competitiveness. That’s something that you only learn at a club level, learning to be able to let it go. Without club surfing there is no way we would be as strong as we are today as a surfing nation. Club surfing is uniquely Australian!

After the interview, Mick asked KSC’s Club President Jason Thomas where the 50th was taking place. Jason explained it was to be outside next to the old Coolangatta Special School site on top of Kirra Hill and Mick readily replied with a Eugene smile, “That’s good, I only live down the road so I can walk home!”

Tickets for Kirra’s 50th anniversary cost only $10.00.

Food and drink will be provided BBQ-style under big marquees. With live music and entertainment from 2.30pm until 8pm, it will be a fun get-together of the five generations of legendary Kirra characters.

Click here for more information on the evening. We hope to see you there!

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.