SOUTH AFRICA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A terrifying encounter moved some of the world's top surfers to tears Monday.
Mick Fanning came face-to-face with what's suspected to be a great white shark during a competition in South Africa.
The final of the J-Bay Open had just started when a shark knocked defending champion Mick Fanning off his board.
"I felt something grab, like, got stuck in my leg rope, and I instantly just jumped away and then it just kept coming at my board and I was like kicking and screaming and wow," Fanning said.
When asked if he saw any teeth, Fanning said, "I just saw fins, I didn't see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me and I was swimming I was like: Ah!"
Fanning says he punched the shark a couple of times before his surfboard leash broke, and he started swimming for his life.
Competitor Julian Wilson frantically paddled over, trying to help.
"I thought oh, he's gone, he's gone under, and I thought I couldn't get there quick enough," Wilson said, in tears.
Rescuers raced over to Fanning and Wilson, and the competition was called off.
Pro surfer Kelly Slater also witnessed the attack.
"All of us almost watched our friend just get eaten by a shark, so I'm just blown away that there's just no damage at all," Slater said. "He doesn't have a scar, a scratch on him. He's not bleeding anywhere. I mean there's no luckier situation you're going to have."
Fanning said he's grateful to be alive after the incident.
"I'm happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, like to walk away from that, I'm just so stoked. And oh man."
See the full video, including his rescue, above. Mobile users, click here.