Port Elizabeth – Australian surf champion Mick Fanning has paid
tribute to “warrior” mate Julian Wilson for rushing to help as a
shark attacked him, while signalling he wants to eventually return to the
The 34-year-old three-time world champion fought off a shark
during the final heat of a world tour event at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa’s
Eastern Cape province on Sunday in dramatic fashion beamed live around the
He survived unscathed, with his rival and close friend
Wilson, also from Australia, furiously paddling towards him to help, despite
the danger posed by the shark, believed to be a great white.
“This man came to my aid like a warrior!!,”
Fanning said of Wilson in an Instagram post after social media went into
meltdown over the dramatic close call, with a YouTube click of the attack
getting more than 11 million views.
“It was by far the scariest thing I have ever been
through and am still rattled,” he added.
Reports in Australia said Queensland state was considering a
bravery award for Wilson, whose courageous actions were lauded online.
Speculation has been rife that Fanning may call it quits
after hinting that he would not compete again in the moments after his ordeal.
But he said on Instagram that: “Jbay is an incredible
place and I will go back one day”, referring to Jeffreys Bay.
He added in an interview with redbull.com that:
“Mentally I’m a bloody mess, but I’ll come good in time”.
“I’m just going to get home and get my head
together.” Fanning was due back in Australia later on Tuesday.
His manager, Ronnie Blakey, told Australia’s Triple M radio
he believed Fanning would still compete in the next leg of the World Surf
League Tour in Tahiti next month.
“He is in a fantastic position to have a run at his
fourth world title… I think Mick will regroup,” he said.
The World Surf League, which organised the J-Bay Open, said
the surfing world was still in shock and while the rescue teams did a great
job, the situation could have been much worse.
“Certainly it will give us an opportunity to sit down
and re-evaluate more the safety side of what we do,” commissioner Kieren
Perrow told Australian Associated Press.
Perrow said authorities would look to employ new and
improving technologies to deter sharks.
Perrow added that the South African stop was not the only
location with a reputation for sharks.
“Being able to have a solution that not just works here
[in South Africa] but everywhere would be pretty incredible,” he said.
“We’ll spend some time doing that and then review what
it means for the future.”