Horrifying moment surfer fights off shark attack with bare hands

Surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark mid-competition Credit: World Surf League

The horrifying moment a surfing champion had to fight off a shark with his bare hands has been caught on camera.

Mick Fanning was ambushed by the shark as he competed at the J-Bay Open in South Africa.

The Australian sportsman told rescuers he had "punched" the shark in the back as it came at him and his board.

In footage filmed by the World Surf League, the triple world champion surfer can be seen sitting on his board, unaware of the impending danger, as the shark creeps up behind him.

As the shark dives at Fanning, the 34-year-old can be seen frantically kicking his feet as he tries to paddle away from his attacker.

The surfer then appears to be hit in the face by the shark as the creature's fin flips up over the edge of the sportsman's surf board.

The surfing champion frantically tried to paddle away from the approaching shark Credit: World Surf League
Fanning appeared to be smacked in the face by the attacking shark's fin Credit: World Surf League
Following his ordeal Fanning appeared visibly shaken after the shark attack Credit: World Surf League

After making his way to a nearby safety boat, Fanning told reporters: "I felt something grab, like got stuck in my leg rope, and I instantly jumped away and it just kept coming at my board.

"I was just like kicking and screaming and wow. I just saw fin, I didn't see the teeth - I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming.

"I punched it in the back."