Professional stand-up paddleboarder describes close encounter with tiger shark

Connor Baxter fights Tiger Shark
(Image: Skype/Connor Baxter)
(Image: Skype/Connor Baxter)

HAIKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Professional stand-up paddleboarder Connor Baxter fought off a very persistent shark on Saturday while foilboarding with friends off Haiku.

Baxter said it all started with what he thought was a prank.

"I kind of just kept my head down and paddled, and kept paddling, and it kind of laughed out loud, like 'Ha ha, very funny,'" Baxter said in a Skype interview with Hawaii News Now.

It didn't take long for Baxter to realize that bump he just felt wasn't his friends.

"And then next thing I know it, I'm on my back, on the board, in the water and saw that there was a 10-foot tiger shark attacking my board and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is really happening,'" he said.

The 21-year-old known for windsurfing Jaws at age 14 found himself hanging on for his life.

"The power was incredible. He was twisting all around, shaking his body, the board was at moments were almost flipping over."

The shark had clamped on to the long metal fin beneath his Go Foil Starboard. Baxter realized this wasn't a quick bite     

"And 20 seconds I was like, this thing is not letting go and I need to do something quick," he said. "And I reacted, grabbed my paddle -- luckily, which I had-- and started hitting it to make sure it would let go. It finally let go after hitting it about 10 times."

But that wasn't the end. Baxter says the huge fish circled around and rushed him again. This time, he was ready.

"I got a one really good crack with my paddle, right on the top of the head. And after that, made a big splash and didn't see it again. But I was on my knees for the next like 20 minutes shaking like, 'Oh my gosh. What just happened?"

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