It was only a matter of time. In fact that morning the commentator’s at the J-Bay Open remarked that Mick Fanning was in the surf before dawn, earlier than everyone else, and that the frigid seas of the Eastern Cape weren’t the place to really do that. How prophetic?
With the world watching live across the Internet, as Julian Wilson finished an 9.0 ride and paddled back out into the line up Australian Mick Fanning was attacked by what is assumed to be a Great White Shark.
As we watched in horror Fanning was thrown about as the shark got caught up in his leash and thrashed about. Fanning, Aussie to the core, fought back laying several punches across the shark’s back before the leash was severed.
Then the world caught up. Mick found himself swimming to shore, Wilson paddled towards his compatriot and the safety boats charged in. That must have been the longest minute of their lives.
Thankfully unscathed the crew was returned to the beach where the near nonchalance of Fanning’s initial adrenaline fuelled response dissolved under the weight of the enormity of the situation.
With events like Chopes and Pipeline, waves of consequence that have taken lives over the years it was only a matter of time before something horrible happened live in a contest. It’s a sobering note that Mother Nature has as little respect for us and we sadly often seem to have for her.
Thankfully Mick and Julian are well and healthly if very shaken. It remains to be seen whether South Africa will return to the WSL next year. For the country’s sake I hope it does. The event was called off and everyone will now be taking stock of the situation before heading to Tahiti.