Three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (Australia) had the most unforgettable and scariest experience during the J-Bay Open Final competition in South Africa when two sharks approached him and knocked him off his board.
Fanning shared his terrifying experience in an interview with Fox Sports saying: “I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away. I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth.” He also told World Surf League TV that he “punched” the shark “in the back” to scare it away.
Fortunately, Fanning escaped unharmed and was picked up by nearby safety boats along with fellow competitor Julian Wilson who was also in the water during the attack. The J-Bay event has been called off after the incident.
On their official website, World Surface League released a statement about the incident:
“We are incredibly 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 our gratitude to the Water Safety Team.”
The two, who were just minutes into the Final of at the J-Bay Open before the attack, agreed to take second place each and split the prize money between them according to WSL after meeting with Commisioner Kieren Perrow.
Watch the full footage below and the interview with Mick Fanning: