Mick Fanning gets attacked by a shark while in the line-up during the J-Bay Open Final.
“I just cant believe it, I’m just tripping out” Fanning
“I couldn’t believe what I was watching…I couldn’t get to him quick enough…its all too much really” Hero Julian Wilson.
“Now that its all sunk in…you cant get more fortunate than that.” Ross Williams
“Now I’ve seen it all…everyone is just baffled” Slater
The full scoop coming. Surf community closer than ever before this mind blowing situation.
Mick and Julian will each take second place and the event will not be extended.
3X surfing champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark on live television during the final of a world tour event in South Africa late Sunday.
Fanning had just started his heat at Jefferys Bay when he was knocked off his board and forced to fight for his life. After punching the shark twice he was quicky fished out of the water by safety crews on jet skis and no one was hurt.
“It came up and got stuck in my leg rope,” Fanning said from the jet ski. “I instantly just jumped away. It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I didn’t see teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me. I punched it in the back.”
Fanning’s opponent, fellow Australian Julian Wilson, was also unharmed.
Fanning was interviewed again on the beach and was unable to fight back tears when reliving the moment. “I was just about to start paddling again and all of a sudden I had this instinct that something was behind me. Then I started getting pulled under water and the thing came up and I was on my board and it was right there and I saw the whole thing, it was right there. I was getting dragged under by my leg rope,” he said.
“I felt like it was dragging me under water and then my leg rope broke so I started swimming and screaming … I just can’t believe it, I’m just tripping out.”
Asked if he felt capable of finishing the event the following day, Fanning said: “Mate, I’m happy to not even compete again. To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked.”
The event has been called off. Fanning and Wilson will split the prizemoney and competition points for first place.
Wilson heroically paddled towards Fanning after seeing the shark attack. He was also moved to tears when describing what happened.
“It was pretty spooky. I saw the whole thing pop up behind him. It came up and he was wrestling it. I saw him get knocked off his board and then a little wave popped up and I thought ‘he’s gone, he’s gone under’. I felt like I couldn’t get there quick enough,” Wilson said. “I’m just happy he’s alive.”
Fanning thanked Wilson for his automatic reaction to come help: “What a legend, coming after me.”
This is the first time a surfer has been attacked by a shark during a world tour event. Aussie surfer Taj Burrow reported seeing a shark during a heat at Jefferys Bay in 2003.
“There’s been plenty of attacks here at Jefferys,” 11-time world champion Kelly Slater said. “Everyone of us knows the risk when we paddle out. I probably thought about it 30 times today … it’s a reality surfing in Africa.”
South African pro surfer Jordy Smith described the incident as “the craziest thing to ever happen in professional surfing”. “I am so happy that (Fanning) is physically OK,” said Smith, in an Instagram post. “I’m sure something like this doesn’t ever leave your mind. I’m so sorry that this has happened.”
The commentators calling the heat struggled to describe the scenes they were witnessing.
“We’ve never seen anything that dramatic and that frightening,” commentator Joe Turpel said.
Commentator and former tour competitor Ross Williams added: “No one has ever seen anyone attacked in a heat … it was such a scary thing to see him come off his board.”
The World Surf League released the following statement: “We are incredible grateful that no one was seriously injured today. Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable – they are truly world class at what they do. 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 out gratitude to the Water Safety Team.”