Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Surfer Who Punched Away a Great White Shark

In the May 2013 issue of TransWorld SURF Magazine, Scott Stephens paints a harrowing picture of 2012 Halloween horror.

It was actually the day before Halloween, and on a perfect morning at Humboldt Bay, Northern California, Stephens suited up in a 5mm wetsuit and set out to enjoy the waves. He caught four in quick succession and then, just as suddenly, his luck changed:

"Mid-paddle, from behind me and out of the corner of my left eye something dark broke the surface and I felt a weight land on my back. My first thought was it was a large seal, but as I was being dragged underwater, feeling the force and power of being shaken in the jaws of a top predator, I began fearing for my life..."
"I opened my eyes underwater and came face to face with the first shark I’d seen in 13 years of surfing. Its face was black and streamlined, the nose jutting forward over an almost grinning mouth of teeth. It was at least four feet from the tip of the nose to the beginning of the dorsal, and its right eye was as large as a baseball. My right fist made contact with the shark just behind this eye. It felt like punching a bag of concrete. I can’t describe what I was feeling at this moment — some eerie combination of shock and terror. And then as quickly as the attack had started, it was all over. I was released, and the shark was gone into the depths."

On Thursday at Eureka High School in Eureka, CA, a group of filmmakers will screen the feature documentary Great White Encounter. It was initially only supposed to be a short, but as Michael McClimmon and co. got into the story of how the injured Stephens was tended to once he got back to shore, it became clear more time was needed to properly tell the story.

The people involved in the making of the film came together in a manner that is in keeping with how the beach community aided Stephens on that day as a whole. McClimmon, a retired musician and the film's editor, met radio host Jennifer Bell and fellow collaborators Ted Okell and Robert Stoneman at the College of the Redwoods.

The July 18 presentation of Great White Encounter is being sponsored by Access Humboldt, filmHUKMBOLDT and the Eureka High School Media Club. Stephens, now fully recovered and surfing once again, will be there along with all co-directors.

[Local Filmmakers Night Humboldt County, CA]

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