“I am just like totally tripping out.”
One minute he is paddling in the azure waters of Jeffreys Bay.
The next, he is fighting off two sharks.
In amazing footage, which has now been seen around the world, you can see Australian triple world champion surfer Mick Fanning narrowly escapes a great white shark attack during the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Three minutes and 47 seconds into his final against fellow Aussie Julian Wilson, the 34-year-old is seen facing the unimaginable: a great white shark.
Did he panic? Did he scream? Did he practically shit himself on camera for the world to see?
Yes, but he also punched the shark twice and managed to escape unharmed, News Corp reports.
(That’s how we breed our surfers Down Under.)
In almost unbelievable footage of the incident, the surfing competition veers into action-movie territory when a fin appears right behind Fanning in the water.
As he turns around you see Fanning notice the Great White and then you see splashing.
For 15 seconds the destiny of one of Australia’s greatest surfers was unknown as the wave obscured Fanning from view.
“Holy shit,” says the commentator in an understated manner.
The crowd on the beach scream. Many burst into tears.
Fears that a pro surfer has been taken by a shark — the very worst fear that many in this community hold.
See it for yourself here. Post continues after video.
As the wave subsided and the jet-ski rescue team shot into the frame we learnt that instead of being taken by the shark, 34-year old Mick Fanning had simply punched him and swum away.
“All of [a] sudden, I just had this instinct that something was behind me,” Fanning told the World Surf League website.
“And then all of the sudden, I felt like I started getting pulled under water. Then the [shark] came up, and I was on my board and it was like right there, and I saw the whole thing thrashing around.
“I was getting dragged under by my leg wrap, and then I felt like it kicked me off, but it was still there, and I was still attached to my board. I felt like it was dragging me under water, and then my leg wrap broke, and I started swimming and screaming.”
His fellow competitor, Julian Wilson, saw the action taking place.
“It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board,” Wilson said.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got a board, if I can get there I can stab it or whatever, I’ve got a weapon”.”
Fanning – a surfer through and through told viewers in an interview to World Surf League he was “stoked” he survived the ordeal.
“I’m tripping out right now. I just saw the footage of the attack” he said.
“To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked.”
The J-Bay Open was officially cancelled less than two hours after the shark attack, with Fanning and Wilson splitting the points and prize money.
“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today,“ organisers, World Surf League, wrote on its Facebook site.
“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 #JBayOpen. We appreciate the ongoing support we have in South Africa and once again want to express our gratitude to the Water Safety Team – Paul Speaker (CEO, World Surf League)”
Fanning said he was “totally fine,” claiming that the only things the sharks damaged were his surfboard and leg wrap.
Mick Fanning – now being called the Chuck Norris of surfing – says he would be happy to never compete again.
But this is one event he may never be able to stop talking about.
As Fanning comes to terms with what-might have-been the rest of the world breaths a sigh of relief for him and together feel one overwhelming emotion. Stoked.
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