SUP surfer beats shark over the head with paddle to fend off attack

A few advantages stand-up paddle surfers have over ordinary surfers, when it comes to shark attacks, is that their boards are thicker, they’re standing while paddling or waiting for waves, and they possess long paddles that can be used as weapons.

Dave Peterson, a Maui board shaper, can attest to this after emerging unscathed from an attack during a SUP session Thursday, by what he said was a shark measuring 8 or 9 feet.

This fantastic story played out near Kanaha at a surf spot called “Boneyard” or “Kite Beach.”

Peterson, a veteran surfer, was standing while waiting for a wave when he was abruptly knocked off his board.

“I fell down and landed on the shark and it was biting my board,” he told Maui Now. “It wasn’t letting go so I grabbed my paddle and started beating it over the head with the paddle, and it let go. It swam by me and I had to push it away, and then it swam off.”

The incident, which occurred 300 yards offshore, prompted a closure for a portion of Kanaha Beach.

Asked about the incident, Joe Carberry, editor of SUP the Magazine, stated: “We’ve heard all kinds of people rave about the benefits of standup surfing, but beating off a predator with the paddle is a new one. We definitely don’t recommend that application. Mr. Peterson just seems like an incredibly tough individual.”

Peterson said this was his first intimate shark encounter in the 40 years that he has been surfing, and it was surprising because the attack occurred at about 8 a.m. in clear water.

The 55-year-old surfer said he felt extremely fortunate not to have been injured or killed.

“But my shoulder hurts from swinging the paddle,” he said, via email. “I needed to get the shark off my board so I could climb back on.”

To Maui Now he added: “I feel bad for my friends who were out there surfing because after I told the lifeguards, they had to close the beach, and the waves were really good.”

The shark species was not identified but tiger sharks are often responsible for attacks in Hawaii waters.

Carberry said mako sharks have been seen in the area where the attack occurred. There also are reef sharks throughout island waters.

–Images are courtesy of Maui Now. Top image shows 10-inch bite marks in David Peterson’s board. Credit: Deb Lynch. Second image shows Peterson inside his shop. Credit: Wendy Osher. Bottom image, from Anderson’s Facebook page, shows him in action long before the shark attack.