Stab Magazine | WA: Great White Launches Woman Into The Air

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WA: Great White Launches Woman Into The Air

She’s unharmed; her board, not so much.

news // Sep 26, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yesterday at North Point, the screaming righthander in Australia’s southwest, a twenty-something Belgian woman was sent skyward by a hungry Great White. Luckily for the victim, the shark hit only her surfboard, causing three bloody toothmarks and another major dent in the foam but no bodily damage the girl. 

Stab called Tom Van Beem, a 23-year-old Rottnest Island lifeguard, who witnessed the attack firsthand.

Stab: Tom! Tell us what happened yesterday.
Tom Van Beem: Well, I was just out at Northies around 6 PM. The waves were pretty awful so there were only five of us out, and then three of those five started heading in, so it was just myself and this girl in the lineup. The water started doing that gurgling thing, like when it gets pulled over the reef, but we didn’t think much of it. Then out of nowhere I saw the girl get launched into the air, followed a huge pair of fins and the whole side of this Great White. I was only a few meters away, and the thing must have been nearly four meters in length.

What happened next?
I’m a lifeguard, and I have some training for shark situations, so the first thing I did was ask if she was ok. I knew that if the shark had hit one of her major arteries, she would have only had a minute or so before she’d pass out from blood loss. Once she said she was ok, we paddled 50 meters straight to the rocks, floated over the barnacles, and scurried up as fast as possible.

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Now the question becomes: to fix the board, or to hang it on the wall as a memento? We wouldn’t fault the victim either way. 

Were you looking back the whole time? Did you see it again?
Nah mate, I didn’t look back at all. I had this sinking feeling that I could get hit at any moment, but luckily it didn’t come back for us. I was just trying to get my mates’ attention on the rocks so they could help us, in case she’d been hit worse than she knew.

How was the girl once you reached the shore?
She was pretty rattled, tearing up, just kind of in shock I guess. I think we all were.

Another close call, another sigh of relief from the general surfing public. Stab wishes this woman the best, and we hope this incident hasn’t deterred her from surfing altogether. The Olympics are coming up and something tells me the Belgian surf team needs all the help it can get. 

 

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