Australian surfer Mick Fanning has been attacked during the final of the J-Bay World Surf League event in South Africa on Sunday.
Footage shows Fanning waiting for a wave and being dislodged from his board, taking commentators and fans by surprise. Event safety sprung quickly into action to assist the champion surfer.
Eventually Fanning managed to escape, and could see the lighter side of the event when interviewed on shore.
“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab … get stuck in my leg rope,” Fanning recounted while sitting in a boat not far from where the near-miss had just happened.
“I instantly just jumped and he kept coming at my board. I was just kicking and screaming.
“I saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth.
“I punched him in the back!”
“I’m totally fine, I’ve got nothing wrong with me. There’s like a small impression in my board and my leg rope got bitten, but I’m OK.
The WSL issued 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.”
The final of the World Surf League event was abandoned.