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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

‘Sniffing toes’: Great white shark ‘stalks’ surfers at J-Bay Open [WATCH]

Wildcard entry?! Chilling footage of a great white shark cruising through a trio of surfers at the Corona Open J-Bay are doing the rounds.

The world’s best surfers have descended once again on Jeffreys Bay to catch some serious waves at the 2023 Corona Open J-Bay which kicked off last Thursday at Supertubes. Chilling footage of a massive great white shark making its way towards three unsuspecting surfers during this weekend’s surfing action has surfaced online.

Great white shark makes waves at J-Bay Open

Professional American surfer Nathan Florence has shared a video clip and some photos via his videographer, Zoard, of the scary encounter on social media.

The clip shows just how unnervingly close the almost 10 foot (three metres) apex predator was to three of his fellow competitors on Saturday, 15 July. 

According to Florence, some younger surfers – known in surf circles as grommits or groms – first spotted the shark.

“We saw some guys come in fast and I asked them what the deal was and they said they had seen a huge white shark,” as per Florence’s Instagram.

“It was close enough they could see its eyes, so we put the drone up fast to see if it was there – and sure enough it was swimming towards the world tour surfers.”

WATCH: Great White shark ‘joins’ J-Bay Open competitors

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The drone footage shows the shark cruising about in the close vicinity of tour surfers Rio Waida and Ian Gentil – from Indonesia and Maui respectively.

Cape Town’s young surfing gun Eli Beukes was also participating in the heat.

As it approaches the surfers, a wave breaks over the great white while an unsuspecting Gentil surfs almost directly above the shark…

ALSO READ: Jeffreys Bay beaches closed after shark attacks surfer

great white shark
Indonesian surfer Ian Gentil rides a wave unsuspecting of a Great White shark lurking below. Photo: Instagram @NathanFlorence/ Zoard

Some tense moments follow as the killing machine can be seen moving in the direction of Beukes on the paddle before it thankfully disappears into the big blue to find lunch elsewhere.

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker: ‘They come past every day sniffing toes’

Durbanite Grant “Twiggy” Baker, South Africa’s living legend of big wave surfing and star of the upcoming How Surfers Get Paid Season 2, however, brushed the fuss aside:

“The only reason you see them is because the water’s clean – they come past every day sniffing toes.” 

ALSO READ: IN PICS: Thrills at the Ballito Pro

Mick Fanning vs Great White: ‘I’m just tripping’

Throughout the years, Jeffreys Bay has become world renowned for its legendary surf… and notorious for shark sightings and attacks.

The most recent shark attack at Supertubes took place about a month and a half ago when a 50-year-old Cape Town surfer sustained a bite wound on his leg.

Eight years ago, three-times surfing world champion Mick Fanning narrowly escaped the jaws of a great white shark mid-heat while participating in the J-Bay Open.

The now 50-year-old Australian surfing legend was a finalist in the prestigious World Surf League event when a shark fin surfaced behind him.

The whole incident was screened live on television with Fanning noticing the great white only at the last moment. He immediately tried to paddle away, but was dragged off his board, eventually surviving the attack by punching the shark.

Australian surfing legend Mick Fanning has lived to tell the tale of his lucky escape from a shark attack at the 2015 J-Bay Open, in Jeffreys Bay. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

After the traumatic ordeal, Fanning expressed his relief at surviving the attack in typical surfing fashion on the World Surfing League website :

“I just can’t believe it. I’m just tripping… To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked.”

ALSO READ: WATCH: Surf champ Mick Fanning back after SA shark attack

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