On July 19th in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, Professional surfer Mick Fanning faced what one would assume is every surfer’s greatest fear: a shark attack.
A finalist in the J-Bay Open, the sixth stop on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League Championship Tour, Fanning was attacked by a shark in the first few minutes of the final heat.
In a live webcast recording, which is trending on social media and can be viewed below, Fanning is seen sitting on his board when a shark fin appears next to him before he is knocked off of his board. The Water Safety Team is quick to appear on the scene and pull Fanning and other finalist competitor Julian Wilson out of the water to safety.
“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving and then I felt something like grab, get stuck in my leg rope and I like just instantly like jumped away, and then it just kept coming at my board and I was just kicking and screaming” Fanning tells a reporter on the rescue boat. “I just saw fins, I didn’t see the teeth, I was waiting for the teeth to come at me”.
Fanning said that he punched the shark in the back to scare it away, and he luckily managed to escape the shark attack with nothing but a severed leash on his surfboard.
Organizers have since decided to cancel the remainder of the competition after the incident.
“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today” World Surf League Commissioner Kieren Perrow stated. “The safety of our athletes is a priority for the WSL and, after discussions with both Finalists, we have decided to cancel the remainder of competition at the J-Bay Open. We appreciate the ongoing support we have in South Africa and once again want to express our gratitude to the Water Safety Team.”
The webcast recording of the attack can be viewed below.