• Shocking moment champion surfer attacked by shark
• Video shows fin emerge from the water
• Fanning: "I was waiting for the teeth to come at me."
• Kiwi surfer says encounter reminder sharks 'watching our feet from below'
Australian surfer Julian Wilson's selfless heroism is being praised after he swam towards a great white shark that was attacking his rival Mick Fanning.
While many competitors may have fled to shore in terror, Wilson instead swam out to help his 34-year-old rival, the Australian newspaper reported.
He told the Australian after the ordeal: "It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board ... I felt like I couldn't get there quick enough.
"I was like 'I've got a board, if I can get there I can stab it or whatever, I've got a weapon'."
Wilson's actions have drawn praise on social media, with many on Twitter calling him a hero.
'I'm happy to not even compete ever again'
A shaken Fanning has said he would be happy to never compete again after being attacked by a shark at the J-Bay Open surf competition in South Africa.
The World Surf League (WSL) event at Jeffreys Bay has been abandoned following Sunday's incident, which was broadcast live.
Fanning, 34, was facing fellow Australian Julian Wilson in the event's final when he was forced to fight off the great white, which pulled him under water and bit through the leg rope of his surf board.
He is locked in a world title battle with Wilson, but competition was the bottom of his priority list following the incident. "I'm happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, to walk away from that, I'm just so stoked."
He escaped without a scratch, but dramatic video footage showed just how close the incident could have been to a tragedy.
He described the moment he realised the shark was behind him as terrifying, saying: "I was waiting for the teeth to come at me. It came up and got stuck in my leg rope. I instantly just jumped away. It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I punched it in the back."
Kiwi surfer Ricardo Christie, who was also competing at the event, said the incident was a huge reminder of the environment their sport takes place in.
"So rattled with what went down today. So grateful you guys are ok," Christie wrote on Facebook.
"Huge reminder for everyone where our arena sits. The ocean ain't no tennis court that's for sure and we are all aware of that. We always know the possibility of this happening as we know these powerful creatures are there, watching our feet from below."
Christie, who was eliminated in the second round by former world champion Joel Parkinson, added: "Many people have been taken but we always push the fear aside as our love for surfing and our ocean is greater than the risk of this nightmare occurring in our own bubble. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone, let alone one of the greatest human beings on earth."
Footage, released by the World Surf League (WSL), which organises the event, shows the shark's fin emerge from the water before following Mr Fanning as he paddled out of the shallows.
Fanning can be seen being knocked off his board before he attempts to use it as a shield to stop the shark biting him. The clips ends with him being hauled into a rescue boat by officials and brought back to the shore.
Fanning's mother was one of those who saw the footage. She "just wanted to grab him through the television screen" when she saw the shark attack, the surfer's Kiwi cousin says.
Mark Osborne, who was National's candidate in the recent Northland byelection, said he had contacted his aunty - Fanning's mother, who lives in Australia.
"Obviously it was a pretty close call, and we are all just very, very pleased that Mick has come through it alright. It's pretty frightening stuff," Mr Osborne told the Herald.
"My aunty said...she just wanted to grab him through the television screen because she is not there in South Africa."
Mr Osborne said he and his children normally watched his cousin's competitions, but time differences meant he didn't see the incident live. He had since watched videos of the attack.
"It was very hard to watch, I can tell you...it certainly gave me chills...just to see your cousin fight off a shark, and to see him come out and get on that jetski intact, was, I can tell you, a hell of a relief."
Mr Osborne said his cousin was an incredibly strong person, but judging from the interviews he had seen was shaken from the shark attack.
"It is something that he will need to reflect on. But he is an incredibly strong, mentally strong person to achieve the things that he has.
"Some years ago his brother passed away, and for him to come back from the trauma of that. And his own injury where he ripped his hamstring off the bone, to come back and win a world title straight after that. He is incredibly strong and driven."
Wilson, who was competing with Fanning in the water, said he thought his Australian compatriot was going to be taken under by the shark.
"I'm just happy that he's alive. I literally thought, as bailing for him, that I wasn't going to get there in time. Especially when I came over the wave, his board was over here and he was swimming the other way, I was like 'oh no it's going to just grab him and take him under'," Wilson said.
"I was thinking 'I've got a board I can stab it or whatever. I've got a weapon'".
The support boats got there in time to save both surfers.
Spectator Kaylee Smit told News24: "We were all watching and then all of a sudden you could see the fin so we knew it was a shark.
"We could see the splashing and he was knocked off his board. I thought this guy was going to die in front of us, it was so hectic. 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."
Eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater had to console Fanning after the incident.
"Now I've seen it all," said Slater of the attack. "I was coming up the beach and I saw all the boats and skis go straight to the lineup. I knew there was only one possible reason that would ever happen in a contest and that's if someone got attacked by a shark.
"I ran up the beach trying to get some information. I'm halfway between crying and laughing because he (Fanning) got so lucky. I'm lost for words to be honest. We almost just watched our friend get eaten by a shark and I'm just blown away that there's no damage at all."
Fanning recently appeared in the latest Air New Zealand safety video.
Just when thought it was safe ... What to do if you come face to fin with a shark
• Refrain from excessive splashing. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
• Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.
• If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.
• If you feel something brush up against you, get out of the water to make sure that you have not been bitten. There have been reports that shark-bite victims often do not feel any pain.
• If attack is imminent, defend yourself with whatever weapons you can. Avoid using your bare hands or feet if you can avoid it; if not, concentrate your blows against the shark's delicate eyes or gills. A shark's snout is also said to be sensitive.
• If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, be as aggressively defensive as you are able. "Playing dead" does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas.
- With Daily Mail and AP