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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Mick Fanning survives shark attack during competition

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Tweed Heads world-champion surfer Mick Fanning has survived a shark attack during the J-Bay Open surfing competition in South Africa, which was seen around the world on live television.

Fanning, a three-time world champion surfer, said he managed to escape Sunday’s attack during the J-Bay Open on the country’s east coast after ‘punching the shark’.

The event is held at Jeffreys Bay which is a notorious hang-out for sharks and surfers the world over know this before they enter the water.

Mick Fanning gathers his thoughts on shore. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.
Mick Fanning gathers his thoughts on shore after the attack. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.

‘I was just about to start moving, start paddling, get going again when all of a sudden I had this instinct there was someone behind me and all of a sudden I started getting pulled underwater,’ Fanning, 34, said shortly after his escape.

‘I punched him in the back, I felt like it was dragging me under water and all of a sudden my leg rope broke,’ he told the World Surf League website.

‘It (the shark) came up and got stuck in my leg rope. I instantly just jumped away. It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I punched it in the back.’

Mick Fanning thanks his lucky stars with Kelly Slater after the J-Bay shark attack. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.
Mick Fanning thanks his lucky stars with mate Kelly Slater after the J-Bay shark attack. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.

He struggled with the shark before jet-skis and boats came to his rescue, helping Fanning and fellow Aussie finalist Julian Wilson back to shore.

Wilson said he thought his Australian compatriot was going to be taken under by the shark.

The attack on Sunday occurred during the final of Jeffreys Bay Open, was captured on camera and broadcast live over television.

Fanning told media he was happy never to compete again.

World Surf League said on Facebook that Fanning was not injured in the encounter.
The encounter forced the final of the Open to be called off for the day.

Mick Fanning cutting some surf rug before the shark attack at J-Bay. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.
Mick Fanning cutting some surf rug before the shark attack at J-Bay. Photo Kirstin Scholtz.

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