Novice surfer punches shark to escape at­tack

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LIFE - By Rod McGuirk

CAN­BERRA: A novice surfer mas­tered a pro’s move on the first try: He punched a shark on the nose to escape its jaws.

The at­tack Mon­day af­ter­noon off the Aus­tralian coast left Char­lie Fry with su­per­fi­cial punc­ture wounds on his right shoul­der and up­per arm.

A Bri­tish doc­tor who ar­rived in Aus­tralia two months ago to work, Fry said Tues­day he had re­cently watched a YouTube video in which Aus­tralian pro­fes­sional surfer Mick Fan­ning de­scribed his fa­mous escape from a great white shark dur­ing a surf­ing com­pe­ti­tion in 2015.

“So when it hap­pened, I was like: ‘Just do what Mick did. Just punch it in the nose,’” Fry told Nine Net­work tele­vi­sion. “So Mick, if you’re watch­ing or lis­ten­ing, I owe you a beer. Thank you very much.”

Fry, 25 and a surf­ing be­gin­ner, was in the wa­ter with three doc­tor friends when he was at­tacked off Avoca Beach, 90 kilo­me­ters north of Syd­ney. “I was out surf­ing and I got this mas­sive thud on my right­hand side; it com­pletely blind­sided me,” Fry said. “I thought it was a friend goof­ing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the wa­ter and breach its head,” he said.

“So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then man­aged to scram­ble back on my board, shout at me friends and luck­ily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in,” he added.

Fry said he wasn’t con­scious of his in­jured and bleed­ing arm un­til he reached the shore. “I didn’t re­ally no­tice it at the time be­cause when you’re surf­ing, all I’m think­ing was: ‘I’m about to die. I’m lit­er­ally about to die,’” Fry said.

“So I thought ... ‘Get in as fast as pos­si­ble, ride the wave for as long as you can and then just start pad­dling for your life,’” he added.

Fry’s friends drove him to Gos­ford Hos­pi­tal, where they all worked, to be treated. The beach was closed for 24 hours.

Life­guards spot­ted the 3-me­ter­long shark that at­tacked Fry close to shore and would use drones Tues­day to check that it had left the area, Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Corp. re­ported.

Fry said he could not re­turn to the ocean for a week due to his in­juries, but “af­ter then, I’ll be rac­ing to get back in.”

Fan­ning was com­pet­ing at the JBay Open in South Africa two years ago when he was knocked off his board by a shark yet es­caped un­scathed.

Fry’s friends drove him to hos­pi­tal.

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