Taj Burrow spooked after shark scare
Australian surfer Taj Burrow says he was left spooked after encountering his own shark scare this week, but he won’t let the experience keep him out of the water.
The surf world was abuzz last month when Mick Fanning fought off a shark while competing in the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa.
Fanning has been having nightmares about the incident ever since, and he was again left rattled last week after seeing another shark in the water.
Burrow knows all too well about the eerie impact such an experience can have.
In 2003, Burrow scrambled from the J-Bay surf after seeing a shark come towards him while competing.
And then earlier this week at his home break Gallows in Margaret River, Burrow was sent scurrying yet again.
“I was surfing and I saw a big school of baitfish, and something ripped through it,” Burrow said.
“There were no dolphins. I’m pretty sure it was a shark.
“It wasn’t huge, but it was enough to get me out of the water. It spooked me a little bit.”
Burrow hopes the J-Bay Open won’t be cancelled next year in the wake of Fanning’s scary experience.
Organisers are already considering hiring shark spotters for next year’s event, and shark-spotting drones might also be implemented.
Burrow said he was left spooked for years after his shark encounter at the event in 2003.
“I just saw a big white coming straight towards me and a cameraman in the water,” Burrow said.
“It freaked me out. It wasn’t nearly as intense as Mick’s encounter, but it was enough to scare me.
“Going back to J-Bay, I was a little bit spooked for the next few years.
“It was definitely a vision that was branded in my brain.
“I can’t imagine how Mick is coping with his. He must be playing it over and over in his head. It would be rough.”
Fanning will return to competitive surfing at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti, starting on August 14.
The 34-year-old sits second on the tour rankings with five stops remaining, and Burrow is backing his countryman to be crowned this year’s world champion.
And like Fanning, Burrow is determined not to let his brushes with sharks deter him from what he loves most – surfing.
“If the waves are good and I want to go to a certain spot, I won’t let a sharky vibe ruin my day,” said Burrow, whose partner Rebecca Jobson is expecting their first child in October.
“I’d still surf no matter what. If your number’s up, your number’s up. I’m not going to stop surfing because of it.”
Burrow held a two-hour surf session at Trigg beach this week as part of his new Activ ambassadorial role for the 2015 City to Surf.
The 37-year-old said he jumped at the chance to link up with the Activ Foundation, which helps people with disabilities reach their potential.
“Surfing’s just so healthy, both physically and mentally,” Burrow said.
“Just to see the smiles on their faces is so rewarding. Everyone feels better once they go in the water.”