When Mick Fanning (AUS) and Julian Wilson (AUS) paddled out to contest the final of the J-Bay Open in front of a packed beach, nobody was expecting what was going to happen a few minutes later. Julian Wilson had just caught the first ride of the final and Mick was waiting out the back staring at the horison waiting for his own when a fin appeared behind him. Our hearts dropped and a cry of disbelief rippled through the crowd as Mick disappeared in a cauldron of white water as he tangled with a shark.
From our perspective Mick then disappeared behind a swell and we were expecting the worst when he appeared back into view, but there was no blood and Mick was soon pulled onto the back of the rescue ski that had rushed to his side. Julian was also grabbed from the water, and the safety patrol boat picked up Mick’s board that was drifting away after the shark had severed Mick’s leash. The final was subsequently called off and after much deliberation it was decided that both finalists would split the prize money and the points for second place. Nobody wins the 2015 J-Bay Open.
And while we sit here chain-smoking ciggies to calm our nerves after witnessing the encounter first hand, we can’t help but feel thankful for the quick response by the water safety team and for life in general. And Mick feels the same way too. The three time world champ and reigning J-Bay Open champ has been staying in the Supertubes Guesthouse next door to us, and we’ve been watching him hugging everyone he knows for the past hour.
Up until that moment in the final, we had witnessed an incredible day of surfing at Supers. Now though, it’ll be hard to remember the final day for other than what happened during those brief few seconds when we thought our surfing hero was going to be taken from us.