Surf Coach Recounts Surviving Not One, But Two, Great White Shark Attacks (Video)

On July 17th, 2000, Shannon Ainslie was attacked by two great white sharks while surfing Nahoon Reef in East London, South Africa. Miraculously, he lived to tell the tale. And years later, he did just that – told the story in his words – in the new video above.

“I had this feeling, like, I’m gonna die today,” Ainslie recalled. “Today’s my last day.”

Flashback to the year 2000. Ainslie was 13 years old then and, under the care of his single father, he and his siblings were left at the beach all day while dad worked. He gave them a surfboard, a loaf of bread, a bag of bananas, and wished them well for the next 12 hours. That surfboard, he and his brother soon found, provided a great way to pass the time.

One day, while out in the lineup at Nahoon Reef – a notoriously sharky spot in one of the world’s most infamously sharky countries – he noticed other surfers paddling to shore. The birds were divebombing; fish were jumping; something bigger was in the water.

Related: Video: Shark Attack Changes Women’s Pro Surfing Forever

But Ainslie didn’t know why. He just kept surfing. And then…

“All of a sudden, bam!” Ainslie continued. “I got hit so hard by this white shark from the left. It flipped me around, and dragged me underwater with it. While that was happening, the other shark hit my right, and missed me, because the other shark got me first. I thought I was dreaming. Even when the shark grabbed me, and bit me, and pulled me underwater, I felt no fear and no pain whatsoever. It all happened so quickly.”

The damage? A mangled right arm, a few broken bones, and a nearly severed pinkie finger. Ainslie made it to shore on his own, and there, other surfers used a legrope as a makeshift tourniquet to quell the bleeding. He rushed to the hospital, where doctors were able to put him back together; he even still has the pinkie finger he almost lost.

Today, Ainslie resides in – of all places – Norway. A calculated move to somewhere less sharky? Perhaps. Regardless, he’s still surfing in the arctic, even scoring as seen above. And he’s a surf coach, too. He’s worked with South African surf stars, like current CT competitor Matthew McGillavray and Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Bianca Buitendag.

And of course, following the attack, he’s quite grateful for the life he’s been given.

“I realized how blessed and fortunate I am to be alive,” he said. “I was given a second chance. I was given joy, peace, purpose, and abundant life.”


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