Australian surfer Mick Fanning has spoken of his “miracle” tale of survival and vowed not to turn his back on surfing after escaping a shark attack “without a scratch” at the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Fanning arrived in Sydney this afternoon, thankingwell-wishers for their messages of support as he wheeled his luggage through the airport.
Dramatic vision showing a shark knocking Fanning off his board during his final against fellow Australian surfer Julian Wilson made headlines around the world on Monday.
Fanning described the terrifying moment the shark nudged the back of his board.
“It sort of came up and went for the tail of my board,” he said.
“I don’t know why it didn’t bite. It just kept coming back.”
He said he vividly remembered seeing the shark’s fin and watching “grey starting to turn to white” as the shark rolled on its side.
“I was on top of it, trying to put my board in between us,” he said.
“I don’t know if I punched it hard or if they were baby punches. I just went into fight or flight.”
Fanning said he was waiting with his “fist cocked” for the shark to return as jetskis and rescue boats sped towards him.
“Once my board was gone I thought that was it,” he said.
Wilson, who paddled towards Fanning as the shark attacked, spoke of the horror of seeing his friend and mentor being “manhandled” by the animal before a wave rose between the two surfers, obscuring his view.
“I honestly froze and … I was kind of freaking out,” Wilson said.
“I came over the wave, praying he would be there and not … with blood everywhere.
“The worst case scenario is in your head.
“I felt like I couldn’t get there in time.”
Wilson said he feared he would have to swim beneath the water to find his friend.
“It was such a horrific feeling,” he said.