Fanning lauds Wilson after conquering demons at shark scene
SURFING: Mick Fanning on Saturday night won the J-Bay Open to "right the wrongs" that occurred there last year and promptly lauded Sunshine Coast's Julian Wilson for being a great mate.
Fanning defeated Hawaii's John John Florence in the final after edging Wilson in the previous round.
"Having a semi with Julian, that was really special," he said.
The two met in last year's dramatic decider, which was called off when Fanning was confronted by a large shark. Wilson paddled towards him in an attempt to help.
"He's a great guy and he's one of those guys who always has your back. It's really special to have friends like that," Fanning added.
It was a remarkable return to those waters and it was the perfect result for the 35-year-old three-time world champion.
"I'm just stoked I got to come back and right the wrongs," he said.
"That was my whole plan, to right the wrongs that happened last year. We did that so now we can move on."
Fanning, who also had to overcome an ankle sprain, is only competing on the World Championship Tour intermittently this season.
He defeated Florence 17.70 to 17.13 in the decider after beating Wilson 17.10 to 15.17.
The latter returned to some of his best form at Jeffreys Bay.
After struggling at many events, last year's world number six found his groove on the sixth stop of this year's 10-stop series and moved from 15th to 9th on the standings.
He beat last-event winner and 2014 world champion Gabriel Medina in the quarter finals.
"I was really happy to win that heat. Gabe is obviously in form coming off Fiji (Pro)," he said.
With renowned Australian coach Andy King now in his corner, the 27-year-old will head to Tahiti with confidence and guidance.