Surfer Mick Fanning Attacked by Shark – In the final heat of the 2015 J-Bay Open between Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson a suspected Great White Shark put the contest on hold. Fanning and Wilson made it to the support boats without injury. The event was called off and the prize points and money were split between the two competitors.
Mick had the following to say just after the incident: “I’m tripping out right now. I just saw the footage of the attack. I was just waiting for my opportunity in the heat and I knew Julian was down the point. I was just about to start paddling and I had this instinct that something was behind me. And then the shark came up from behind me and attacked. I got pulled under water and was being dragged under by my leg rope. Then it kicked me off and I punched it a couple of times. Then my leg rope break and I was just swimming. I was yelling at Julian to get away but he was coming towards me to help. What a legend. Then I was just readying myself for it to come at me again so I turned around, hoping I could at least see it coming. And then before I knew it the boat was there and I was safe.”
WSL’s Paul Speaker released the following statement: “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.”
There have been a number of attacks at Jeffrey’s Bay in the past but nothing like this has ever happened during an actual contest.