Stab Magazine | 13-Year-Old Girl Battles 10-Foot Great White In South Africa

13-Year-Old Girl Battles 10-Foot Great White In South Africa

These ZAF shark headlines are bordering on hysteria. 

news // Jul 19, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Fins and breaches have become to the J-Bay Open what tramp stamps and meth are to the U.S. Open. With a shark popping up in Filipe Toledo’s heat yesterday and WSL commish Kieren Perrow calling the comp off today after the Great White air show, the moral of the story is that South Africa’s sharky…but you already knew that. And while we almost expect CT heroes like Mick Fanning to ward off the jaws of death with their fists, it’s a whole different story when a creature in a grey suit tries to steal away a cute, little 13-year-old girl.

Enter the life and times of Zoe Steyn. Surfing this week at Nahoon Reef near East London, the teenager was reportedly sitting on her board about 75 meters offshore when the encounter occurred. Coming up from underneath, the shark, which was estimated to be approximately 10 feet in length, bit into her board.

Screen Shot 2017 07 18 at 12.46.02 PM


“I just saw this huge black eye looking straight at me and a huge bang as it took my board and began shaking it,” Steyn told the local press. “It latched on with its jaws just missing my leg and it tipped me backwards and I fell in and I just saw the black shape of it in the water and panicked.”

“I heard another surfer screaming at me to get back on my board and I pulled myself onto it but was terrified of where the shark was and what to do. Then I saw a surfer friend, JP Veaudry, paddling straight out to get me and he told me not to think about the shark but just paddle for all I was worth,” she continued. “He kept asking me if I had been bitten by the shark but I said I didn’t know as I was in a state of shock and adrenaline was just pumping through my body.”

Consider the situation and celebrate the poise of Steyn. She’s only been surfing for three years and has never seen a shark in her life, yet she battled and paddled and came away with nary a scratch. It’s taken Fanning a couple years to put his shark incident behind him. They say kids are resilient; apparently, that’s true as Steyn was back out in the water the next day.

“My memory of it is this big black eye looking straight at me,” she said. “I can’t thank JP enough for risking his life to paddle out and save me and get back to shore. It has taught me never to surf alone ever again.”


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

“Airlines Hate Me:” Bad Boy RyRy’s Guide To Surf Travel

Want to get pampered at the pointy end of the plane for free?

Aug 17, 2022


What Happens When You Borrow A Pro’s Board?

Joyride: The Shrizz from PANDA surfboards.

Aug 16, 2022


Mick Fanning Samples California’s Finest Local Produce

Mayhem at Lowers.

Aug 16, 2022

Mountains Died So You Could Surf

The value of sand.

Aug 15, 2022


UPDATE: People Are Still Surfing ‘La Jetee’ in Reunion Island

Returning to the best & sharkiest air wave in the world, as seen in Mod…

Aug 14, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Female) Surfers

What the Stab reader survey teaches us about taste.

Aug 14, 2022


Kelly and Local Gal to Win Teahupo’o?

Local insights and a firing forecast.

Aug 13, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

Aug 13, 2022


Fear And Loathing in Mainland Mex

Parker Coffin, Harry Roach, and the Roark crew embark on an authentic Oaxacan (surf) trip.

Aug 13, 2022

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022


While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022


Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022

Albee Layer Discusses His Not-So-Budding Acting Career And The Upcoming Film “Sweet Adventure”

"Matt and Nora were tripping a little harder than I was just because they weren't…

Aug 8, 2022