UK doctor who punched shark in attack thanks champion surfer Mick Fanning for life-saving advice

A British doctor said he channelled the advice of surfing champion Mick Fanning by punching a shark when it sunk its teeth into him in Australia.

Fanning fended off a shark with his fists during a competition in 2015.

Novice surfer Charlie Fry found himself under attack while out with a friend in waters off the coast north of Sydney on Monday.

"When it happened, I was like, 'just do what Mick did, just punch it in the nose,'" he told Nine Network's Today programme.

Charlie Fry escaped with nasty bite marks but his body in tact. Credit: Channel 7 News

The 25-year-old medic, who was left with puncture wounds on his shoulder and forearm, was attacked by a 2m-long shark.

"I was literally like 'this is mental, you're about to die'," he told Channel 7 News.

"I saw it come out with its teeth and I instinctively hit it in the face with the left hand and managed to get back on the board because it knocked me off."

Dr Fry escaped the predator and immediately surfed back to shore at Avoca Beach, around 40 miles north of Sydney, as he became the fourth person to be attacked along New South Wales beaches this year.

Champion surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark mid-competition in 2015. Credit: World Surf League

He said he was indebted to Fanning, whose surfing videos he had watched having recently taking up the hobby after arriving in Australia to work two months ago.

Three-time world champion Fanning was filmed fending off an attack after encountering two sharks during the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa in 2015.

"You watch him get away and you hear him talk about it," Dr Fry told Channel 7 News.

Charlie Fry began surfing after taking up work at a hospital in New South Wales. Credit: Channel 7 News

"And I guess that runs through your mind like about what to do."

Dr Fry said he would love to meet his hero now.

"Obviously it'd be great to say thank you to him properly," he said.