Professional Australian surfer Mick Fanning fended off a great white shark on July 18 in Jeffreys Bay. He was in the South African province of Eastern Cape for an international surfing competition. While waiting for his turn on his surf board, a shark came up behind him and pulled him in the water.
The three-time world champion acted on instinct and punched the predator. He disappeared underwater for several moments. After coming up and breaking free of his leg rope (which was keeping him attached to his board), he swam vigorously towards safety. The rescue guards made their way to him as soon as possible. Fanning was pulled from the water along with a fellow participant, Australian Julian Wilson, both unhurt.
“A big sigh of relief seeing Fanning in one piece,” said a commentator. The video was originally posted to the official website of the World Surf League and has since gone viral.
Safe on a rescue boat, Fanning inspected his surfboard. “I felt something grab, get stuck in my leg rope and instantly jump away,” explained Fanning, adding that the shark continued to come at his board. His leg wrap was bitten off and his board was a bit dented, but other than that, he was OK—physically, at least.
In a media conference, Fanning admitted that he was still in “an emotional, mental sort of trauma” and that it would take time for him to get past it all. But he has every intention of getting back on the surfboard, even in the same location.
The rest of the competition was called off by the World Surf League due to the scare. Fanning will share the second-place prize money with Wilson, the other surfer who was in the water as well when Fanning was attacked. Both Fanning and Wilson will share the second-place position.
Chutel, L., “Pro surfer fends off shark during South African competition,” The Globe and Mail web site, July 20, 2015; http://goo.gl/p4NpYV.
Harper, T., “Mick Fanning speaks out about his shark attack ordeal at media conference alongside fellow competitor Julian Wilson,” FOX Sports web site, July 21, 2015; http://goo.gl/dDusRU.