A three-time world surfing champion was targeted by a shark off the coast of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, on Sunday in midst of the final round of a competition. Mick Fanning, 34, was waiting for his signal to start in the final round at the J-Bay Open when the shark attacked Fanning. Luckily, after several seconds of wrestling the shark and rescue crews rushing in, Fanning came out of the water in one piece. His surfboard, on the other hand, did not have the same ending. According to Fanning, the only damage done by the shark was to the surfboard and the leg wrap that helps the surfer attach themselves to the surfboard.
In the immediate aftermath of the shark attack, Fanning's account of the incident would make sense as to why he was visibly shaken. The Australian surfer told ESPN:
[A]ll of the sudden, I felt like I started getting pulled underwater. 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 of, but it was still there, and i was still attached to my board. I felt like it was dragging me underwater, and then my leg wrap broke, and I started swimming and screaming.
This was the first time a surfer has been attacked by a shark during a competition, according to World Surf League commissioner Kieren Perrow, and the video of the incident is harrowing.
It begins with the camera panning to Fanning sitting atop his surfboard with the fin of a shark approaching the surfer.
Then the shark makes its attack while Fanning begins fighting it.
Some thrashing ensues, making Fanning not visible to the camera, and the announcer starts calling for the rescue to help the surfer.
Fanning, at this point, is underwater.
The rescue crew arrives and takes Fanning out of the water to safety.
Fanning, visibly shaken, catches his breath after fighting for his life against a shark.
Fanning tells the other crew members he's alright and safe.
After watching the video, one can only breathe a sigh of relief that Fanning is unharmed, alive and well.
Images: YouTube/World Surf League (10)