7 April, 2018, 12:00 am
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.
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.
Yesterday’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.