As if monster waves and jagged rocks did not represent an adequate risk for the world’s professional surfers, just ask three-time champion Mick Fanning what he has to say about sharks, one of which caused him to miss some of 2015 and all of the 2016 season, after he was attacked during the J-Bay Open in South Africa.

The old adage of bad fortune coming in threes was apparently the case for Fanning in 2015, as along with the shark attack, he had to deal with the death of one of his brothers and the end of his marriage.

Fanning received the Order of Australia award, which was one positive in an otherwise dreary year. Another was the opportunity to take a step back, recharge his batteries and surf for the pure fun of it, including a couple of rides accompanied by the Aurora Borealis in Norway.

He is amped for this year’s competition, saying, “It might be the best field from the top seed to number 34 we’ve ever had. I also think it’s the biggest group of legit title contenders we’ve ever seen on the tour ever and I want to be part of the race.”

Fanning will make his return in the opening round of the World Surf League at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast.