First, they love you, then they hate you: World title secrets with Mick Fanning and John Florence.
After two decades in the game, there are a few commonalities you can always rely on when dealing with a-grade talent: the first is that you need to be prepared to do plenty of waiting.
Once a time and day were set for the interview, both surfers committed to a firm time date: 8am Tuesday in Australia and 12pm, in Hawaii. It was 7.53am and my laptop wouldn’t kick over.
Frozen. A few resets and it whirred to life. It was 7.57am when I finally tuned into Zoom.
There, both Mick and John were in full swing.
I’m not sure what was more disarming, that these guys were so punctual or the fact that they’d already dived into the joys of cycling, and the fact that John needs to embrace lycra because it’s a “game-changer.”
The goal of this call was simple: two see what can be distilled when two surfing world champs riff about life at the top. This is our second iteration of the series.
We had some feedback from the first episode with Ronnie Blakey and it was that we lacked a clear explanation of what was actually going on.
Just to be clear, my role in this is a co-host who plays a moderator. When you have two world-class talents going at it, the last thing you need is a third gypsy swinging in with their opinion.
However, left alone, two pro surfers could spend 60 minutes wandering aimlessly around subjects like injury rehab or their favorite surgeons in the world. Which, is to not discount those subjects specifically but they can get kinda dreary.
My role is to shepherd and push the conversation away from the instinctual and well-worn cliches. From the first question, Mick was a lot more comfortable with playing host and firing questions.
John, who is usually more guarded was loosened up and ready to learn from Mick. It was a fun exchange.
We never expected to hear so much about Gabe Medina, nor had any idea that the emotionless John was a learned skill and that surfing Pipeline is easier with an injury than Snapper.