Surfers have again been forced to stop competing at South Africa’s Jeffreys Bay Open due to the presence of a shark.
It was in the same South African waters that a shark attacked Australian Mick Fanning only two years ago, with compatriot Julian Wilson famously swimming towards him in a bid to help.
Fanning ultimately fought off the shark in an incident that sent shockwaves through the world.
And in a staggering coincidence, Wilson’s 2017 Open was interrupted by a shark, with the Aussie and Brazilian Filipe Toledo in the water when a shark was spotted not far from the pair.
Marshals described the shark as a two to three-metre mako shark, and its presence saw the day’s action quickly cancelled.
A shark breached about 100 yards off the line-up during #CoronaOpenJBay Round 4. This was part of a larger feeding activity that was occurring. Everyone was removed from the water safely. We will not restart the heat today. Competition is off for the day and will potentially resume tomorrow.
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Wilson, who was left stunned, returned to the shore to embrace his mother, Nola, before speaking to the press.
“I was so excited just being out there,” he said.
“Anything like this happening was the furthest thing from my mind.
“I was just focusing on the waves and how beautiful it was out there. It’s a bummer that we have to put a pause on such a beautiful day but the ways are going to be here again tomorrow.”
Wilson added that he was not scared or worried by the shark sighting.
For Toledo, it was also a case of history repeating.
He was helped from the water at April’s Margaret River Pro in Western Australia after a shark was spotted there.
“Second time this year … but glad to be here,” he said afterwards.
“The team worked good … they saw a big fish or shark spinning. It was a crazy situation.
“The skis came really fast to us and we jumped on the skis.”
The incident occurred in Wilson’s fourth-round heat against Toledo and South African Jordy Smith, while Fanning was involved in the heat prior to the shark being spotted.
Due to the sighting, much of Tuesday’s action [local time] was abandoned.
Just two surfers (Frederico Morais, Gabriel Medina) have qualified for the quarter-finals, with three Aussies (Wilson, Fanning and world championship Matt Wilkinson) still in contention.