Australian surfer Fanning escapes uhurt after punching away a shark

JEFFREY’S BAY, SOUTH AFRICA (JULY 19, 2015) (WORLD SURF LEAGUE) – Australian surfer Mick Fanning survived a shark attack unscathed as he was preparing for Sunday’s (July 19) final of the World Surfing League’s J-Bay Open, fighting off the circling predator with his fists.

Fanning, three-times world surfing champion, was paddling out to ride his first wave when the unidentified species of shark surfaced next to him, knocking the 34-year-old off his board.

The Australian managed to fight off the predator, hitting it on its back before it swam off, leaving him shaken as he waited for a support boat to return him safely to shore.

The incident, which was broadcast on live TV, led to the postponement of the final against compatriot Julian Wilson.

“I was just sitting there, I was just about to like just to start moving and then I felt something grab like got stuck in my leg rope and I like instantly just jumped like away and then it just kept coming at my board and I was just like kicking and screaming,” said Fanning.

“I just saw fins, I didn’t see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming. I punched him in the back,” Fanning added.

Organisers have not yet decided when the final will resume, though it will be Monday (July 20) at the earliest.

South Africa’s waters are among the most shark-infested in the world. A swimmer was killed by a Great White shark at Albatross Point close to Jeffrey’s Bay in 2013.