Professional surfer Mick Fanning fought off a great white shark attack on live TV on Sunday during the finals of the J-Bay Open of the Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour in South Africa.
Here’s the horrible moment:
He made it out unscathed. He was visibly shaken up from the incident though.
The 34-year-old Australian told a broadcaster from the World Surf League what happened while he was waiting to catch his wave in the final heat.
“I had this instinct that something was behind me … Then, the thing came up … I saw the whole thing just thrashing around. I was getting dragged under by my leg rope. I felt like I punched it a couple of times … My leg rope broke. I started just swimming and swimming. I was screaming,” he said.
“I just saw fin, I didn’t see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming.
Fanning added: “I just can’t believe it. I’m just tripping out.”
“I just want to let all my friends and family know that I’m OK. I’m just tripping out,” he said.
Fellow surfer and competitor Julian Wilson was also shaken up by the incident. Wilson and Fanning were competing against each other in the finals.
In a tearful interview, Wilson recounted how he thought his friend was “gone.” When Wilson saw Fanning being attacked, his reaction was to paddle over and help him.
“I’m happy that he’s here,” he said.
The remainder of the J-Bay Open was cancelled after the attack.
“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today. We want to express our deep gratitude to the Water Safety Team,” the World Surf League said in a statement.
Fanning is one of the best surfers in the world, but the attack – not surprisingly – rattled him.
“I’m happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, to walk away from that, I’m just so stoked,” he said.
Check out the video clips below. (You’ll notice how quick the water safety patrol reacted to the attack.)
Here’s fellow Australian surfer Julian Wilson explaining what he saw:
Here’s a shot of the shark’s fin creeping up on his surfboard.
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