Earlier today during the final heat of the J-Bay Open surfing tournament the three-time World Surfing Champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a Great White sharks while wating for a wave. There were actually two Great White sharks near him but one attacked and ended up getting tangled in Fanning’s life-line and pulled the surfer in to the water.
Fanning was able to fight the shark off with punches and kicks until the rescue craft were able to get to him as well as Julian Wilson, the other surfer in the finals who was also in the water at the time of the attack and was attempting to rescue Fanning.
As a surfer through my formidable years I was blessed to experience the zen of being out on the water and was fortunate enough to have never had an encounter of this sorts, I actually never knew anyone who has had a run in with a shark, but it does happen more often than people would expect. As of July 1st there have been 23 shark attacks in the U.S. (1 fatal) this year and this is including 7 attacks since June in North Carolina alone.
The coast of South Africa is well known for their sharks and the WSL does have a “Shark Rule” but this is the first time that a contestant has ever been attacked during a tournament and it was being televised live.
Fortunately Fanning escaped physically unharmed, though quite shaken. The J-Bay Open was cancelled after officials made the decision that they didn’t want to put the surfers in any further danger, even an unseen shark can attack, so based on the rule both finalists split the cash prize and both were awarded 2nd Place points because it was considered a tie. Currently Fanning is #2 and Wilson is #3 on the Men’s Rankings board.
Neither competitor has appeared on cardboard but Topps and Upper Deck both have given some love to the surfing community with Kelly Slater getting most of the attention, that will happen when you win 11 World Sufing Championships. Each year they do get a couple of new surfers in to sets like Upper Deck Goodwin Champions and Topps Allen & Ginters plus there are releases from the 1980s and 1990s where you can find some of the old schoolers like the Futurea, Beach Force and Generation Extreme sets.
Here are some of the shots taken during and immediately after the attack, these images were released by the WSL: