“My heart was on the ceiling,’’ recalls Lyle Fielmich, World Surf League broadcast director, of the moments when the camera captured a shark’s fin behind Mick Fanning’s board.
“I was directing that morning and when it happened it seemed to go on forever, although it was probably only eight seconds.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then it was all over and I could breathe again. It was remarkable.”
Lyle, who graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Communication from Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, was in South Africa directing the broadcast of the J-Bay Open Surf World League Event when the terrifying incident occurred.
As broadcast director, Lyle is in charge of the look and feel of the program, so that means being up at 5am every day to prepare for a morning show.
“We do our rehearsals, have everyone ready, and then we usually don’t know whether we are going to be live or not, so you have to be in this state of readiness the whole time,’’ he said.
And ready they were, but no-one was prepared for the startling images of that fin and what came next.
“Within 24 hours there were more than 16 million hits on YouTube. It’s just astonishing.”
For now, Lyle is back in Australia taking a well-deserved break before his next event.
“I don’t want to see anything like that again,” he said.