Fanning was born on 13 June 1981 in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia, to Irish parents. He learned to surf from the age of five at Brown Bay near Mount Gambier, but did not focus on surfing until his family moved to Tweed Heads, New South Wales, when he was twelve. He grew up with fellow professional surfer, Joel Parkinson, in the Gold Coast/Northern Rivers region and attended Palm Beach Currumbin State High School together. On the Queensland border, Fanning had access to surf north and south and he began to make a name for himself. In 1996 he established himself as one of the best surfers on the Queensland points by placing in the top three at the Australian National Titles. Watch this video and see why he’s still ranks up there with the best.