MICK Fanning has revealed the scariest part of his shark attack in South Africa wasn’t captured on camera.
The three-time world champion, who made headlines around the world after fighting off a shark on live television during a competition in Jeffreys Bay, said he landed several punches when he was hidden from view behind a wave.
“The craziest moment actually unfolded when I got knocked off my board and disappeared behind the set wave,” said Fanning, in an interview with redbull.com.
“The thing started thrashing around me, you can see the water splashing, and that’s when I was hitting it.”
Fanning is still coming to grips with the attack, which he has watched “so many times” since it happened.
“It’s surreal watching it play out. It’s like, did that really happen to me? I just can’t believe I’ve come through this completely unscathed physically. Mentally I’m a bloody mess, but I’ll come good in time,” he said.
He said the most troubling aspect of the ordeal was knowing his family and friends were forced to watch the incident live on television.
“Thinking about this playing out on a live broadcast with my family and friends and people that support me all watching is something I’m still processing. That’s one of the scariest factors, and what really gets me emotional,” he said.
Fanning spent the night after the attack with a bunch of fellow competitors and officials from the tour, having a few drinks and dinner.
“There was a lot of love and relief, but it was so strange though … it felt like I was at my own wake, to be honest. I got some sleep but it was a pretty restless night,” he said.
As for the confronting interviews that he and fellow competitor Julian Wilson — who was lauded for coming to his aid in the water — undertook immediately after the incident, Fanning believes they were necessary.
“When I got on the boats I had the camera on me, and when Pete Mel was interviewing me I was still so buzzed from the adrenaline. I hadn’t had a chance to really think things over when I answered Pete’s questions,” Fanning said.
“We got to land and walked through the crowd to go and see the commissioners, Kieren Perrow and Renato Hickel, to determine what was going to happen next. In that little room a few of my closest friends from the CT came in and I completely lost it.
“There was about eight grown men in there, and every single one of us was crying. At that moment I realised there was going to be some serious concern from my family and friends around the world, so I asked if I could do an interview so they could hear it from me that I was okay. So yeah, it was really necessary for me.”
The next stop on tour is in Tahiti in three weeks time. Fanning is unsure whether he will be mentally prepared to compete.
“I really don’t know at this point. It’s one of those things that throws your perspective completely out of whack. I’m not thinking about contests and titles, my mind is purely on family and friendships right now,” he said.
He’s also unsure about visiting Jeffreys Bay again.
“I love the place. Nothing could ever change that. The wave is like no other, the people are pure gold and it’s maybe my favourite stop on the schedule. I felt like I was on track for another win but it was going to be a great fight. I was so excited to be surfing against Julian in that final and it's a bummer that it didn’t happen … man I was glad he was out there though,” he said.
“I’m not thinking about whether I’ll go back at the moment. We’ll see how I feel.
“I’ll never surf on July 19 again though.”
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