The 2015 J-Bay Open has been cancelled under frightening circumstances, after three-time world champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the event final. This is the first time in surfing history that a shark attack has occured during an event.
Fanning was attacked just moments into the final against compatriot Julian Wilson. Fanning was knocked off his board and fought the shark off before being rescued by Water Safety. Remarkably, both surfers in the water escaped the attack unharmed.
"I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away," Fanning said.
"I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth."
Fanning said he was able to "get a punch into its back" and startle it. The event was immediately called off, with Fanning and Wilson evacuated by rescue boats and named joint runners-up of the event.
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."
Finals day had earlier produced a number of hard-fought heats, with Aussies Fanning, Wilson and Adrian Buchan joining Kelly Slater in the semi finals. Buchan continued his surprise run with with victory over an in-form Kai Otton, after previously overcoming the likes of Julian Wilson, Owen Wright and Nat Young.
Slater looked back to his best at the tail-end of the event, nailing back-to-back 9-point rides to earn a comfortable quarter final win over defending world champion Gabriel Medina, before he was ousted by Fanning in the semis.
The event will undoubtedly be remembered, though, for the alarmingly close call on Fanning. It's a harrowing reminder of the dangers the ocean and its inhabitants pose. Stay safe, everyone.
2nd: Mick Fanning (AUS)
2nd: Julian Wilson (AUS)
3rd: Adrian Buchan (AUS)
3rd: Kelly Slater (USA)
5th: Kai Otton (AUS)
5th: Alejo Muniz (BRA)
5th: Gabriel Medina (BRA)
5th: Adriano de Souza (BRA)
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