Mick Fanning might’ve been daring to dream of a fifth title at Bells Beach but a fellow Aussie has closed the book on his fairytale.
Mick Fanning was brought crashing back to earth on Friday by fellow Aussie Callum Robson, who slammed the door on the veteran’s hopes of claiming a fifth title at Bells Beach.
It was a tough day all-round for the Aussies, with Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore among the other locals to bow out on the fifth day of the event.
40-year-old Fanning retired from the World Surf League tour in 2018 but earned a wildcard entry into the marquee Aussie event at Bells Beach.
The Aussie fan favourite claimed a massive scalp on Thursday by eliminating Japanese world No. 1 Kanoa Igarashi to advance to the round of 16.
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But Robson closed the book on Fanning’s fairytale, eliminating him on the final wave and handing him a ninth-placed finish overall.
Robson saved his best for last, recording a 7.77 on the seventh wave to go with the score from his second-best wave (6.73).
With his total of 14.50, Robson did enough to shut the gate on Fanning, who finished with 14.27 (6.77 + 7.50), just below the average heat score of 14.39.
Fanning was all smiles after his elimination, which came in his 100th career heat at Bells, and wished Robson all the best.
“It was great fun. I had a great time. You want to go out just surfing,” Fanning said.
“Callum’s a great kid, it was awesome to have a heat with him.
“Big prospects for Australia riding on Cal, so that’s great.”
Fanning said he was grateful for the chance to surf at Bells for the first time since 2018.
“It’s been a really different Bells from me. I’ve really enjoyed it. The support from everyone has been great. Great memories,” he said.
“I just wanted to go out and have fun and that’s what I’ve done at this event.”
With his Bells campaign wrapped up, Fanning said he was looking forward to spending the rest of the Easter long weekend with his young family.
Meanwhile, three of the four Aussies remaining in the women’s event were eliminated in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Bronte Macaulay were all sent packing, with only Gilmore seriously challenging her opponent.
Tyler Wright, who defeated Macaulay, is the last Aussie standing and will battle with American Courtney Conlogue for a spot in the final.
There are four Aussies in the hunt for glory in the men’s event; other than Robson, Jack Robinson, Owen Wright and Ethan Ewing have all qualified for the quarterfinals.
At least one Aussie will make it through to the semis, given Wright and Ewing are meeting in heat one of the next stage.