Australian surfer Mick Fanning has vowed to return to surfing despite fighting off a shark during this year’s J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Mick Fanning, 34, described his terrifying ordeal to reporters in Sydney on his return home.
He thanked his “warrior” mate and fellow competitor Julian Wilson who swam into the fray to help.
In one light moment, Mick Fanning was asked if he had a message for the shark.
He replied: “Thanks for not eating me.”
Mick Fanning was the defending champion at the tournament at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and a three-time world champion.
Dramatic footage of the encounter on July 19 showed the moment when the shark hit the back of his board.
“It sort of came up and went for the tail of my board,” Mick Fanning said.
“I don’t know why it didn’t bite. It just kept coming back.”
“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.”
After that, jet-skis and rescue boats arrived to pick Mick Fanning up.
Julian Wilson, also a competitor at the event, paddled towards Mick Fanning when he saw the shark.
“I came over the wave, praying he would be there and not … with blood everywhere,” he told reporter at the same press conference.
“The worst case scenario is in your head.”
Mick Fanning said he would return to surfing, and to the J-Bay event, but it may take some time.
“I’m sure I’ll go surfing [soon], surfing has given me so much, it’s something that gives me peace, I’m sure I’ll go back out … I’m quite anxious to get back home,” Mick Fanning said according to the Guardian.