The Aussie looked like going out of the tournament, but produced an 8.6 and a 5.83 in the final moments of the heat to beat Adam Melling (Australia), Matt Banting (Australia) and Caio Ibelli (Brazil).
“That was a tough way to get through,” said a relieved Fanning.
“I just could not find the right wave for the entire first part of the heat and then finally in the last minute I found one – it’s a pressure situation but that’s good for me mentally. I’m here to sharpen up and enjoy the waves so it’s all good.”
Owen Wright dominated his heat from start to finish to come through easily, while Bede Durbidge, Thomas Woods, Brent Dorrington and Mitch Crews also won their heats.
In the women's event Sally Fitzgibbon produced a truly unforgettable performance in her round of 12 heat, scoring 9.0, 9.57 and 9.27 to make the quarter-finals.
Breaka Burleigh Pro Men’s Round 5 – Round of 32
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (Aus) 12.50, Jack Duggan (Aus) 12.10, Kieren Perrow (Aus) 11.50, Jay Thompson (Aus) 10.50
Heat 2: Ricardo Christie (NZ) 14.87, Marco Fernandez (Bra) 14.24, Lincoln Taylor (Aus) 12.90, John Cummings (Aus) 10.96
Heat 3: Mitch Crews (Aus) 17.73, Ryan Callinan (Aus) 16.37, Santiago Muniz (Arg) 12.34, Maxime Huscenot (Fra) 11.44
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (Aus) 14.43, Adam Melling (Aus) 14.43, Matt Banting (Aus) 13.73, Caio Ibelli (Bra) 12.63
Heat 5: Owen Wright (Aus) 17.00, Davey Cathels (Aus) 14.70, Billy Stairmand (NZ) 11.47, Joan Duru (Fra) 6.20
Heat 6: Brent Dorrington (Aus) 16.30, Frederico Morais (Prt) 13.93, Daniel Ross (Aus) 13.26, Nick Vasicek (Aus) 13.16
Heat 7: Thomas Woods (Aus) 14.96, Cooper Chapman (Aus) 13.13, Stu Kennedy (Aus) 12.40, Matt Wilkinson (Aus) 7.66
Heat 8: Alejo Muniz (Bra) 17.83, Dion Atkinson (Aus) 14.77, Corey Ziems 9.67, Chris Friend (Aus) 8.70