Mick Fanning is somewhat Australia's golden boy. First off, he's one of the greatest surfers to have ever graced the ocean. Second, he brews one of Australia's most celebrated craft beers. Third, he's your token 'good bloke.'
Talking about life after professional surfing, it's all 'shakas' for the 37-year-old as he continues surfing, exploring, and capturing the spirit of adventure after Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia.
"My life is pretty great at the moment," chuckles the three-time World Champion.
"I still get to surf everyday with Rip Curl as we search for new and exciting waves in those unique places off the beaten track. And with Mercedes-Benz Vans, I also get to explore opportunities that don't come by too often."
A ute man
Growing up on the surf coast in New South Wales, Fanning always had an affinity for the Aussie classic ute due to its practicality, design and offerings; perfect for the everyday surfer.
But now the champion surfer, along with Sheree Commerford (stylist, designer and digital media entrepreneur), has been announced as an official X-Class ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Vans for Mercedes-Benz Australia and New Zealand – a growing sector of the global luxury automotive company.
Partnering with Mercedes-Benz Vans has allowed Fanning to continue his exploration for adventure with the all-new X-Class V6 ute - a definite upgrade to his first ute in the way of a V8 Commodore SS.
"Mercedes-Benz Vans is such a great brand to partner with, as our values not only align but the performance side of its range is truly epic. Where my life is at now, the X-Class is honestly the perfect car for me. I can cruise through the city comfortably, or throw my boards and wetsuits in the back for a surf; it fits my lifestyle perfectly."
Designed with a utilitarian-centred profile, the X-Class can do anything and everything - it's a combination of Mercedes-Benz iconic DNA of luxury and class interwoven with the need for an everyday reliable car.
And it's not just designed for men.
As Diane Tarr, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand, puts it, the X-Class is a vehicle designed to shift attitudes.
"The X-Class looks good, feels good and drives impeccably well, and it's not just for the boys," laughs Tarr.
"It has the same DNA as any other Mercedes-Benz vehicle, but differs slightly as it is intended for individuals and families to explore different lifestyles and adventures."
The people's car
Driving through the Byron Bay hinterland, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 ute was not only a joy to handle, but its practicality - along with its fantastic design aesthetics - wins you over almost instantaneously; it's the perfect vehicle for the everyday commute, be it city, coastal or country.
"In Australia, the ute is one of best selling vehicles. So, Mercedes-Benz has built the perfect vehicle for a range of lifestyles," explains Sabine Wagner, Product Marketing Manager for Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand.
"The X-Class offers the perfect combination of what a traditional ute can do – such as its robustness and off-road capabilities – coupled with the DNA of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle: style, driving comfort and elegance."
With a growing customer base wanting (and needing) a more dynamic car that doesn't compromise on style or performance, Mercedes-Benz Vans have truly listened and acted, offering a growing portfolio of vehicles within its 'Vans' sector, such as the X-Class ute and the Marco Polo campervan.
A bright future
With his professional surfing career over, Fanning looks to the future with a positive attitude – a notion that might have seemed bleak all but 4-years prior.
With the almost-tragic shark attack incident in South Africa to the passing of his older brother Peter all in the same year, Fanning has faced his fair share of adversity throughout his life, only to come back stronger than ever before.
"When it all happened [the shark attack], it was hard to deal with and it was a long process to get my confidence back up. I had to have quite a few meetings with the right people to deal with it," says Fanning.
"But, I realised it for what it was: a freak incident. You can walk across the street and almost get hit by car, but that doesn't stop you from crossing one every day. I have always had the mentality that there is always someone out there worse off than me – I'm very fortunate with the opportunities that I have and I live a really lucky life."
Life after surfing – although a hobby he still takes part in almost every day – Fanning works on his brewery Balter which is fast becoming one of Australia's favourite craft beers.
But it's exploring and travelling the world, as he ticks off his bucket list, that has Fanning most excited.
"I can't tell you exactly what I have on the bucket list but all I can say is that there are many waves in the world that haven't been surfed, and I'm up for the challenge," laughs Fanning.
"I look forward to the continual partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans this year, creating memorable moments and having a lot of fun doing so; because that's really what it's all about!"
The writer travelled to Byron Bay and Halcyon House as a guest of Mercedes-Benz.