For the first time in surfing history, a surfer was attacked by a shark during competition.
It happened at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa during the Final Heat of the World Surf League’s J-Bay Open. Australian Julian Wilson began the round with a 6.67 and defending champion Mick Fanning was in the surf waiting for his chance to compete.
And then it happened.
Immediately after the attack Fanning told his rescuers, “It just kept pounding at my board and I was just like kicking and screaming – I punched it in the back!”
Cocoa Beach’s Kelly Slater, who Fanning defeated in the semifinals, had this to say immediately after the attack; “I’m halfway between crying and laughing because it’s like he got so lucky. We almost watched our friend just get eaten by a shark. I’m just blown away that there’s no damage at all.”
Fanning and Wilson agreed to each take equal second in rankings points and split the prize purse that was to be awarded to the winner. Adriano de Souza of Brazil, currently number one in the world, will retain the yellow jersey and the top spot heading into the Billabong Pro Tahiti set for August 14-15.
Fanning might not make the trip to French Polynesia. “I’m happy to not even compete ever again,” Fanning stated on the beach moments after the attack. “Seriously, to walk away from that I’m so stoked.”
Pro Surfer Survives Shark Attack