Sitting in the lineup at Mavericks is scary as hell at the best of times, but when you throw an estimated 16-foot great white in the mix? Well, now you’re wading into some serious horror movie territory.
According to ABC News, that’s exactly what happened on Sunday in Half Moon Bay when Drake Stanley, a Mavericks surfer and water safety expert, took his ski out to the famed big-wave break around 1:30 p.m. after having surfed it himself earlier in the day.
In the lineup, he noticed a massive shape coming toward the surface of the water right next to his ski, and he immediately recognized the shape as a great white shark.
“It was so distinctly bright white, the whole bottom half of it,” Stanley told ABC. “I saw its teeth, I saw its giant gray eye–it was the biggest great white I’ve ever seen, not on a TV.”
There were nine surfers in the lineup at the time, and when Stanley noticed the shark’s attention shift to one particular surfer who was paddling away, Stanley quickly intervened, positioning his ski above the shark and revving the engine before calling to all the surfers in the lineup to climb aboard.
“It seemed very likely to me, the way the shark had turned its attention to the surfer, that it was going after him very deliberately and agressively.”
According to Stanley, all the surfers that could fit piled onto his ski, while any who couldn’t held onto the side as he slowly drove them all to safety. “I basically evacuated Mavericks!” Stanley told ABC.
It’s impossible to know for sure if the encounter would have resulted in an attack had Stanley not been present, but surely the handful of surfers in the water are glad that it wasn’t left to chance.