Mick Fanning’s return to the World Surf League has coincided with a shark sighting which temporarily halted competition at Sydney’s Narrabeen Beach on Sunday.
Three-time world champion Fanning, who famously survived a shark attack in competition in South Africa in 2015, was safely back on the beach after advancing from his elimination heat when a shark was spotted.
Surfers competing in the second heat were pulled from the water and competition was delayed for 15 minutes until the shark made its way further down the coast.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Making a one-off return to the tour, Fanning advanced from his three-man heat along with French veteran Jeremy Flores at the expense of Australian Connor O’Leary.
The heat never reached any great heights, with Flores picking up the best score with a 6.67 for a combined 10.84, and he edged Fanning’s two-best wave total of 10.27, with O’Leary starved of waves.
“The old boys – we’ve had some incredible heats over the years,” Fanning said of Flores.
“Every heat we’ve ever had has been so close; he’s a great guy and a great competitor and I love his passion for surfing.
“Unfortunate for Connor – he’s been absolutely ripping.”
After a slow opening heat on Saturday, Fanning said he felt like he was building into some form.
“I felt like I finally warmed up a little bit and felt my feet and legs – we got the starter motor going,” he said.
The interrupted second heat had plenty of action beside the shark sighting, with local wildcard Dylan Moffat proving a crowd favourite.
The 21-year-old and fellow Australian Jack Freestone were pitted alongside Italian Leonardo Fioravanti.
Moffat posted a score of 7.33 after an impressive aerial rotation, however Freestone topped it with an 8.17 for his lofty air with the pair advancing through to the next round.
© AAP 2021