SURFING legend Mick Fanning has pulled out of full time competition, following an "intense" 2015 that included a mid-contest battle with a great white shark and the death of his brother Peter.
In February, Fanning announced that he was separating from wife Karissa Dalton.
Fanning finished as runner-up in the 2015 competition.
"Last year was definitely intense - what happened at J-Bay [with the shark attack], being in a title race and the unfortunate passing of my brother," Fanning wrote in a statement.
"There was so much build up with everything happening. I got to a point at the end of the year where I felt empty. I didn't feel like I had much to give back."
"This year, I'm going to take some time off and have a bit of a personal year.
"Just to regroup and re-stoke the fire.
"At this stage, I'm going to compete at Snapper and I'm going to compete at Bells and then I'm going to take some time off from there.
"They (Snapper and Bells) are two events that I love and I'd go crazy if I were sitting at home and couldn't go surf Snapper.
"Bells is like a second home as well.
"From then on, I feel like I have to take some time away from the tour to get out of that sort of zone to see where my head is at."
Footage of Fanning having to fight off a shark attack at Jeffreys Bay became an international news story.
Sydney Morning Herald reported Fanning intended to return to "J-Bay", saying he feels "there's something there I want to go and face".
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