I’m not saying the chances of a shark attack are heightened while riding a hydrofoil. But the obvious dangers of riding such surfcraft are hitting the news as their hype continues to build. Remember when Japanese surfer Yu Tonbi Sumitomo almost decapitated himself recently while putting his new foil through the motions? Now, just a week ago, news broke that renowned champion SUP racer Connor Baxter was attacked while standup foilboarding Maui’s Maliko Run alongside his friends and professional standup paddlers, Zane Schweitzer and Alex Aguera.
How, you ask? Baxter says that a tiger shark, about 10-feet long, latched onto the foil of his board underwater and began trashing about viciously. The three-time Molokai 2 Oahu champion was knocked onto his back, luckily not into the water. When he realized the shark was not letting up, Baxter grabbed his paddle and began to strike it. After about ten or so blows, the shark released, though it circled around and returned once more toward Baxter. This time, Baxter was prepared, as he gave it one solid blow to the head that sent it on its way. "I was on my knees for the next 20 minutes, shaking," he said.
What does this have to do with the dangers of hydrofoils? While we’ll never know if the shark was actually after Baxter or had confused the foil for another marine animal, it seems that there was some form of allure in the foil board. We’re just happy that Baxter didn’t turn into lunch, and that he’ll live to surf another day. Stay safe out there, friends.