It was a lucky day for Mick Fanning, an Australian professional surfer who was suddenly approached by two sharks during a competition in South Africa. The 34-year-old three-time world champion was about to compete in the final against fellow Australian Julian Wilson during the J-Bay Open when the cameras caught what looks like two sharks approach Fanning and knock him off his board.
Organizers of the event appear quickly realized what was going on and went to rescue Fanning, who was not injured. “I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab [and] get stuck in my leg rope. And I instantly just jumped away and it just kept coming at my board. I was just started kicking and screaming,” Fanning later said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “I just saw fin, I didn’t see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming.” Fanning added how he managed to keep the shark at bay: “I punched him in the back!”
“It felt like I punched it a couple of times and I felt like it was dragging me underwater and then my leg rope broke and I was like, ‘Alright, just start swimming and swimming and swimming,’” Fanning added, according to Sky News. “I can’t believe it, I’m tripping out.”
The J-Bay Open was cancelled less than two hours after the attack and Fanning and Wilson split the prize money, reports Fox Sports.