Shark Attack Victom Back In The Water
Remember that shark attack back in February in East London? we tend to get all carried away in these gnarly situations, the word spreads like wildfire across the surfing universe, and then it all kind of fades away from the public eye. So we decided to follow up on the victim from that particular attack, Michal Du Plessis. It took a while for Michal to get back in the water, and Bilt’s Elton Fursman shaped him a new board ad the crew at Bilt buffed him with it after his last one was chowed.
Stoked to be back in the water with my new stick
We caught up with him to see how he was, and what he was up to.
Going back, where did the attack happen?
The attack happened out at my local break of Yellow Sands Point, about an half hour drive out onto the East Coast route just outside good ol’ Slumtown. I was surfing with four of my friends (Aiden Leppan, Rodger Berkhout, Oscar Miller and Logan Philpott) when it took place and we were pretty much the only people within close vicinity of the surf spot! Luckily Oscar had his Mazda bakkie and cellphone there which played a great role in saving my life!
What sort of shark was it?
My first thought was that it was a Great White shark becauseIi clearly saw it underwater for about a second after it had bitten me. It had a sharp pointed nose and appeared to be very darkly coloured. About a month later, the EL representative of the Natal Sharks Board told me that they are quite positive it was a Great White because of certain characteristics of the scars on my leg.
When did it take place?
I was attacked on a Tuesday just before noon on 16 February 2010. The attack happened a mere 3 days after the famous Surfer’s Marathon (which I took part in) which actually starts at Yellows Point!
What were the extent of your injuries?
I had multiple lacerations on my right leg above and below the knee. The cuts were all the way to the bone. Sounds intense, but a month later I was back on my feet and in the water for my first surf!
What happened to your board?
I actually think my board got off lightly. The shark got more of me in it’s jaws than the board. The bottom of the board got gashed by the bottom jaw of the shark as it attacked me because I was sitting on my board when I was attacked. The shark took a sizey piece of my board off but it was not entirely destroyed. I tend to think that the surfboard aided me in stopping the shark from getting it’s jaw fully around my thigh, which could have been disastrous! My board was another factor in saving my life!
Who helped you on the day? What did they do?
The four friends who were surfing with me helped me tremendously! The five of us all kept the coolest of heads and acted quickly and sufficiently! After we had all paddled ourselves onto the rocks, Logan Philpott and Aiden Leppan stayed with me while Oscar Miller and Rodger Berkhout ran to get Oscar’s nearby car and to make some emergency calls to parents and ambulances. Aiden used his surfboard leash and tied it around my thigh as a tourniquet to stop the blood flow out my wounds. Him and Logan then carried me over the cobblestone rocks (slicing their feet up in the process) to put me into the back of the bakkie which Oscar fetched. Oscar, Aiden, Logan and myself then raced off to the nearest medical center while Rodger stayed behind and gathered all our scattered boards on the rocks. Logan and Aiden stayed with me in the back of the bakkie while Oscar sped down the road at a record breaking speed to Crossways Pharmacy, about 9km away! This whole procedure took about 10min but it felt like a split second!
The car that saved my life.
me Logan Aiden Oscar Rodger
Were you nervous to get back into the water?
Initially I was super excited to get back in the water! As I got off my crutches i paddled out for my first surf at Nahoon beach in EL. It was awesome, although I couldn’t really stand up yet! Later I surfed more and more and it started feeling just as good as it did before, both physically and mentally! The only time that I feel a little anxious is when I surf on my own. I have only done this once since the attack and I didn’t enjoy it at all! I felt very vulnerable and I got quite paranoid. But other than that, surfing is just as good as before!
What did you learn from the whole ordeal?
I learned that life is very vulnerable. It can be lost just in a flash and I am extremely lucky to still be here! Just one more nip from the shark and i might have lost my leg and bled to death. I’ve also learned that in a situation like a shark attack or any other life threatening disaster one must keep your cool and act fast. The way my friends and I acted was probably key to my survival and I am so stoked that we were able to do what we did.
Anyone u want to thank?
I’d mainly like to thank my four friends who acted so heroically to save my life! They were the key to my survival! I’d also like to thank my family and friends who helped me spiritually to get over this ordeal and to surf happily ever after. I’d like to thank the paramedics, doctors, surgeons and nurses who helped me in hospital and on the way there. Lastly I’d also like to thank both Xcel for donating me a wetsuit and Bilt Surfboards for the sick new board! The board is going so well and it’s making surfing just as pleasurable as before! Shot!
Had any good waves lately?
Yeah! I recently went down to Cape St. Francis and J-bay for like two weeks it was EPIC! Supers was going off and the beach break out at Cape St. Francis was outta this world! Earlier this year I also surfed a few times in the Seychelles while cruising on a yacht. It was pretty fun! At home the waves have also been pretty decent its been a good two months of surfing back home in SA. In August O leave back to Seychelles and from there I will across the Indian Ocean and spending a good 3 months in the Mentawais! CANNOT WAIT!! http://www.zigzag.co.za/wpmu/zigzagblog ... the-water/