WSL finals delayed by shark sighting, Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons crash out

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Two surfers have been pulled from the water after a shark, believed to be a great white, was spotted during the World Surf League finals in California.

Brazilians Felipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina were rescued by officials after the first sighting of what is being reported to be a 6-8 foot great white shark.

With the competitors out of the water and the heat put on hold, lifeguards checked the area for any further signs of the shark.

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In an ironic twist, Australia’s Mick Fanning was commentating for the WSL live stream at the time. In 2015, Fanning made headlines around the world when he escaped an attack by a great white during an event at J-Bay in South Africa.

“They’re probably looking for my phone number to light me up – it’s your fault,” he joked.

“The protocols that the WSL has when this happens is so good, they’re so fast.

“They don’t take any chances, the surfers have seen it enough in so many areas, it’s just pressing pause. It’s like a time-out in football.”

Jessi Miley-Dyer from the WSL said the biggest priority was keeping everybody safe.

“We just had a shark breach the side of the line-up, it’s about 6-8 foot, so what our protocol is, we’re going to search the line-up, make sure it’s gone, and then we’ll restart. We’re looking at a 15 minute hold,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer from the WSL.

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Surfing resumed, with Medina edging out Toledo to claim his third world title.

A second sighting interrupted the women’s final between Brazil’s Tatiana Weston Webb and Carissa Moore from the United States, before Moore added a fifth world title to the Olympic gold medal she won in Tokyo.

There was disappointment for Australians Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons, with Gilmore eliminated in the opening round, while Fitzgibbons was beaten in the second round.

“It’s not my finest moment, that’s for sure,” Gilmore said.

“It was really tough to pick a great wave out there – there was like a rip running through the left and it created some ribs on the right and my whole plan was to stick to the rights and try to pick off a clean one.”

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