Three-time world champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the J-Bay Open Sunday off South Africa, prompting organizers to cancel the competition.

Fanning, 34, was not injured but video footage shows the shark emerging behind and splashing beneath him, as he senses what’s happening and scurries around to avoid being bitten, eventually falling from his surfboard.

The encounter occurred two minutes into the final of the J-Bay Open. Water safety personnel on Jet Skies rushed in and picked Fanning and fellow finalist Julian Wilson.

Fanning, 34, from Australia, said later during a World Surf League broadcast: “I had this instinct that something was behind me. Then, the thing came up. I saw the whole thing just thrashing around. I was getting dragged under by my leg rope. I felt like I punched it a couple of times….
“My leg rope broke. I started just swimming and swimming. I was screaming,” he said.

 A frightened but relieved Mick Fanning is picked up by rescue personnel. Video screen grab

Shark sightings are not rare in J-Bay and, in fact, pro surfer Taj Burrow was chased from the water there during a semifinals heat in 2003. There was no contact during that incident.

After Sunday’s encounter, the World Surf League issued this 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.

Mick Fanning, a moment before the scary encounter. Video screen grab

“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.”

Fanning, who is currently ranked second in the world, added: “I just can’t believe it. I’m just tripping out.” I just want to let all my friends and family know that I’m OK.”