On a day that was already filled with dramatic action in the water, the third heat of Round Four of the Corona Open J-Bay halted mid-stream today after a mako shark breached more than once about one hundred yards outside the lineup. According to officials, the shark breach was part of an overall uptick in feeding activity that's being monitored in and around Jeffreys Bay and, per event protocol, they activated the response team and called the heat off.
The shark was spotted as Jordy Smith took off on a wave. As he surfed his way into the beach, his fellow competitors, Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson, were picked up by a safety craft and brought to shore.
Safety crew and competitors all handled the situation with cool heads, as the jumping shark seemed to be partaking in the kind of late-afternoon frenzy that's common in this part of South Africa, where shark sightings are almost routine. Julian Wilson knows this all too well, as he was in the water during the famous Mick Fanning incident in 2015. WSL event officials have beefed up their shark safety efforts ever since. Multiple skis are in the water monitoring the traffic throughout the event, and the action taken today went exactly as planned.
Back on shore there was a short discussion among officials on whether to resume competition or not. The epic day of competition was nearly complete, so officials elected to exercise an abundance of caution and wait until morning to resume. At that point, once conditions are assessed, a call as to how Round Four, Heat 3 will be handled will be announced. The two options under consideration are a re-start of the entire heat, which is more likely to occur if conditions change dramatically. If conditions hold true to Tuesday's there's a possibility the heat will resume where it left off, with Jordy Smith holding onto a narrow lead.
Here's a look at how the entire scene unfolded.