Nick suffered cuts to his legs and received 50 stitches. He kicked the shark in the head to break free of its grasp on his ankles. Pic: David Middlecamp
16 January 19
For Nick Wapner, Tuesday morning at Montaña de Oro State Park was a typical day of surfing with friends as he paddled in for one of the last waves of the day off Sandspit Beach.
Wapner, a sophomore communications major at Cal Poly who has surfed since he was 4 years old, had met up with some fellow surfers to ride the waves.
Then, it happened.
At about 10 a.m. after about an hour in the ocean, a great white shark came up from beneath him as he paddled into position for an incoming set.
He didn’t even see a splash.
“It all happened quickly, but I turned and saw that it had one of my legs in its mouth,” Wapner said.
The shark bit down on the lower part of his legs around his ankles, and then up to his thighs. In a skirmish that he estimates lasted a few seconds — though his mind was racing and it’s hard to say exactly — Wapner kicked the shark hard in the head and wrangled himself free.
The experienced surfer said he didn’t feel any pain initially as adrenaline shot through his body.
After releasing him, the shark turned in a flash, leaving Wapner with a lasting, haunting image of its entire torso — giant head, massive jaws and beady eyes — as it pivoted away.
“The thing was huge,” Wapner said.
- Author: Nick Wilson
- Source: San Luis Osbispo Tribune