Three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) has been awarded the event wildcard for the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the fourth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2022 Championship Tour (CT), which holds a competition window from April 10 to April 20, 2022.
“Bells is the wildcard I really wanted,” Fanning said. “Obviously, I did Narrabeen last year but Bells is the one I was really aiming for. It’s a place that is really close to my heart, and if I was ever going to take a wildcard, it would be there, so I’m pretty fired up. Personally, I really like the wave at Bells. The speed of it, the wide open canvas, and the fact that it is a right hand point break. I love everything that comes with Bells, the history, the cliffs, the gathering of everyone down in the car park. It's so awesome. It’s something that sits in my heart.”
The Australian surfing icon officially retired from professional surfing at the 2018 Rip Curl Pro. Prior to his retirement, Fanning spent 17 years competing on the elite CT. His illustrious tenure includes 22 Championship Tour victories, 11 Top 5 finishes, and three World Titles, cementing him as one of the greatest surfers and sportsmen in history.
“To go and ring the Bell for the fifth time, no one has ever done it apart from Gail Couper,” Fanning continued. “During my career I got close, but right now I just want to focus on putting on a good performance. My preparation when I was on Tour was non-stop training but this time around I’ve just been focusing on my surfing and making sure it’s up to the level of the best in the world.”
After taking a couple of years off to recover from a knee injury, Fanning was back in the jersey as an event wildcard at the 2021 Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, marking 20 years since winning his first CT event — as a wildcard — at the 2001 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.