A spectator who watched in horror as three time J-Bay Open Champion Mick Fanning was battered about by a shark on Sunday described the incident as “horrific”.

Kaylee Smit, who had been watching the finals of the event, said that time seemed to stop when people saw the shark’s dorsal fin in the water.

“We were all watching and then all of a sudden you could see the fin so we knew it was a shark. It looked like the shark was tangled in his leash and we could see the splashing and he was knocked off his board,” she said.

“I thought this guy was going to die in front of us, it was so hectic,” Smit added.

“It was surreal. The whole crowd rose to their feet in complete silence and then that was broken by the announcer screaming over the information system for people to get out of the water. I am still in shock and I am shaking,” she said.

The World Surf league announced on their Facebook page that the event had been closed for the day.

They said that Fanning was unharmed and that more information would be forthcoming.

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