Here’s some compelling viewing for your Sunday: professional surfer Mick Fanning fighting off a shark in the waters of Jeffreys Bay off South Africa. It’s safe to click play, because Fanning survived unscathed, but it might get your heart beating a little faster than normal. He was quickly rescued by a safety team with boats and Jet Skis.
Fanning and fellow finalist (and fellow Australian) Julian Wilson were pulled out of the water and the last round of the competition was eventually canceled, with both surfers splitting the prize money. You can tell from some of the interviews with the surfers recorded later on that they were very shaken by the experience — as you would expect.
“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving, and then I felt something grab, just get stuck in my leg rope,” said Fanning. “I instantly just jumped away, and then it just kept coming at my board. I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me. I punched it in the back.”
“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today,” said the World Surf League in a statement. “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.”