Not quite fairytale finnish for Fanning as he retires

Three-time surfing world champion Mick Fanning has just missed out on a fairytale finish to his career after being defeated in his last world tour event at Bells Beach.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Brazil‘s Italo Ferreira scored 15.66 to beat Fanning‘s 12.83 in the final.

Fanning first rose to surfing prominence in the same event on Victoria‘s Surf Coast in 2001, and went on to win the title again in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Today‘s final got off to a slow start but conditions slowly improved, as hundreds of fans lined the beach to cheer Fanning‘s every move.

But the atmosphere soon changed to nervous energy as Fanning sat in second place with only minutes remaining.

With the swell dying down, the fairytale final wave never eventuated, and as the seconds ticked by, Ferreira embraced his opponent in the water.

After being chaired up the beach by the crowd, Fanning said it was a very special moment.

“Just to see how much it meant to Italo made me feel a lot better,” he laughed.

He joked it would take him two years to send text messages to all the people he wanted to acknowledge.

“I‘ve learnt so much and I walk away with so many great memories, not only in the surf but on land and travelling with people, so thank you,” he said.

Ferreira, 23, said the win – his first ever on the pro tour – against one of his heroes was “unbelievable”.

“Mick is one of my favourites, he‘s the best competitor ever, and I just want to say thank you to Mick for everything.”

Fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore won her fourth Bells Beach event by defeating Hawaii‘s Tatiana Weston-Webb in the final.

The win means she is now ranked number one on the championship tour.

Fanning had progressed to the final by beating American Patrick Gudauskas in this morning‘s semi-finals and good friend Owen Wright in the quarter-finals in perfect conditions.

He has won 22 world tour events, including four at Bells, but has decided to call it quits after this event, saying the hunger to compete is no longer there.

– ABC