J-Bay Shark Drives Surfers to Shore

As the ASP Men's World Championship Tour (WCT) looks ahead to the J-Bay Open, a Great White reminded surfers of the break's biggest threat.

According to Surfer Magazine, Supertubes was packed when the shark swam by, driving the locals to shore.

"The 6-foot surf was just beginning to fire,” said photographer Ted Grambeau. “About 50 surfers vacated the lineup for at least a half hour.”

Great White shark drives surfers from the lineup at J-Bay. A shark sighting at J-Bay Sunday drove surfers to the shore. - WSL / Grambeau/Surfer Magazine

Former WCT surfer Dan Ross (AUS) was the first to see the Great White; he was near J-Bay local Frankie Oberholzer when it swam between them. Once the surfers cleared out, Grant "Twiggy" Baker (ZAF) paddled back into building sets, this time with a shark pod. The pods (short for protective oceanic device), emit an electromagnetic field designed to repel the toothy threats; they're typically carried by SCUBA divers, spearfishers, and--when occasions arise--surfers, too.

Soon after Sunday's sighting, the pumping swell got too good to resist. The crowd on shore took Baker's lead and joined what Grambeau described as a "rather tense lineup."

While J-Bay is the next destination for the WCT, it isn't the only Tour venue where sharks are part of the local habitat. During April's Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Western Australia, surfers saw sharks in the lineup almost daily.

The ASP recognizes that natural dangers are part of surfing, and the safety and well-being of the athletes is a priority. Inherently, however, the sport's environment deserves and requires a healthy, balanced ecosystem.

The J-Bay Open has an event window of July 10 through July 21 in Kouga, Eastern Cape, South Africa.