Mick Fanning Attacked by Shark at J-Bay Open
Australian surf champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark in South African waters while he was competing at an event in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape on July 19.
Mick Fanning’s mother watched “terrified” on live TV as her son was attacked by the shark.
The 34-year-old surfer punched and kicked the shark and was soon rescued by a jet-ski.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I thought we’d lost him,” Mick Fanning’s mother, Elizabeth Osborne, told ABC News.
“I was absolutely terrified. I went over to the television almost as though I could pull him out… to save him,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from her home on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Elizabeth Osborne had already lost a son to a car crash 17 years ago and she said those memories came back to her.
“When Sean was killed in the car accident, I didn’t see it,” she said.
“I saw this just in front of me. It was just terrible.”
Mick Fanning, the defending champion at the tournament and a three-time world champion, escaped without any injuries.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away,” he told Fox Sports.
“I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth.”
Mick Fanning said he was able to “get a punch into its back” and startle the shark.
The World Surf League (WSL), which organized the J-Bay Open, said two shark were seen in the water near Mick Fanning and another competitor, Julian Wilson, also from Australia.
The two surfers are rivals but also friends and Julian Wilson paddled towards Mick Fanning to help him.
Julian Wilson was emotional afterwards telling the Sydney Morning Herald that he felt as if he couldn’t get to Mick Fanning quickly enough.
“It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board,” the surfer 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>>.”
Julian Wilson’s mother was also watching on TV and told reporters: “I don’t know if he’s crazy or a hero.”
The commentators said it was the first time they had seen a shark attack a competitor during an event, according to the Herald. The WSL cancelled the tournament after the incident.
“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,” it said in a statement.
Reuters says the waters are some of the most shark-infested in the world, and that a surfer was killed by a Great White shark close to Jeffreys Bay in 2013.