Double shark-attack victim returns to Nahoon
Barbara Hollands WEEKEND POST CORRESPONDENT firstname.lastname@example.org
NO FEAR: Jeffreys Bay surfer Shannon Ainslie, 25, with J-Bay surfing sisters Emma, 15, (left) and Gina Smith, 14, whom he coaches. Ainslie survived a double shark attack 10 years ago.
AN East London surfer who overcame the trauma of a terrifying shark attack by two great whites at Nahoon Reef 10 years ago, returns to the same surf break today – this time aiming to take top honours in the Mr Price South African Open.
Shannon Ainslie, who was 15 when a tourist caught the unprecedented double attack on video, said he had “no fear at all” about surfing at the Reef.
He said he would be more focused on beating the likes of big-name Springbok surfers Greg Emslie and Warwick Wright than worrying about once again becoming the target of hungry marine predators.
Recalling the attack, which is still regularly aired on television channels like National Geographic and Animal Planet, Ainslie said he thought he was “in a daydream” when a day of surfing in July 2000 became a living nightmare. “I was paddling for a wave when one great white came up on my left and one on my right,” he said.
“The one on the left bumped me into the air, bit my surfboard and my hand and took me underwater, while the one on my right was going for my head and shoulders, but missed me because the other shark bumped me out of the way.”
The shocked and bleeding teenager was unaware of the second shark at the time, and was taken aback when the Canadian tourist showed him the footage he had inadvertently captured.
“It was pretty cool actually. It was cool because I was alive when I should have died. It was even more of a miracle that I survived an attack by two great whites.” Ainslie, who now lives in Jeffreys Bay where he coaches surfing, said he did not feel the bite during the attack.
“It was only later that I realised two of my fingers were hanging by their skin, but they were sewn back on.”
He clearly remembers praying for help. “Every other surfer that was out at the Reef left me in the waves and I prayed to God to help me out of the water. Straight away a wave came out of nowhere. It made me take God and my life much more seriously.”
In the decade since the attack, Ainslie has been interviewed countless times by the international print and film media and now an American author is writing a book about him.
The Mr Price Pro ends tomorrow.