Shark attack halts Hawaii surf contest

Nation/world

The Maui Pro surf contest in Hawaii was on hold until further notice after a recreational surfer was attacked by a shark early Tuesday.

According to Maui Memorial Medical Center, the victim is in stable condition.

The Maui Pro, sponsored by Roxy, was scheduled to start its second day at 10 a.m. The attack happened before 8 a.m. as the water safety crew prepared for the day and other surfers were enjoying the waves before the event.

Authorities said a 56-year-old Lahaina man was bitten while paddling out from the old boat ramp in the bay.

“We are announcing today, right now, that there’s going to be no competition at the Maui Pro following a shark incident that happened in the bay with a recreational surfer this morning,” said WSL CEO Erik Logan in a video.

He said the man was surfing recreationally and not a member of the contest.

Da Kine Surf Marketing Director and Maui native, Micah Nickens, was at Honolua Bay when it happened.

“It was really somber and really sad,” he said. “It was a very eerie feeling to be a part of.”

Nickens was talking with a friend when the attack took place.

“All (of a) sudden … they’re honking the horn for the end of the lineup and the skis were moving quickly (out in the water),” he said. “And I was like ‘wow, they’re gonna start the contest soon.’

That’s when his friend told him there was a shark attack.

Nickens saw an ocean safety crew pull the man from the water and administer CPR.

“It was heavy. It was incredible, I mean, people are crying,” he said. “One of the little girls was out in the water. She’s like eight. I don’t know if she’ll ever recover from it. To be honest, it really scared her.”

Nickens has surfed at the Honolua Bay his whole life and admits he’s seen sharks there before. The bay is full of fish and he said he saw turtles there on Monday.

“Occasionally, I’ve seen small six to eight footers (sharks) just kind of cruising along the shoreline, just hunting or cruising,” Nickens said.

He said conditions were prime for an attack.

“It was earlier in the morning. Clarity was really bad and it was right near the river mouth,” he explained.

Nickens said he thought the WSL did the right thing, putting the contest on hold until further notice for everyone’s safety. He explained that in the past, when shark attacks happened during events, WSL changed the event location.

WSL has not confirmed a change of venue for the Maui Pro yet.

Maui Memorial Medical Center announced that the victim of the shark attack was out of surgery and in stable condition as of 3 p.m. on Dec. 8.

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