Shark incident in Oregon damages surfboard

Too close for comfort

13. January 2012

A Lincoln City man is counting himself lucky after an apparent shark attack left him in need of a new surfboard but otherwise unharmed.

“I just bought this thing,” Steve Harnack said. “Paid $500 for it. It was my first day riding it – and my last.”

Harnack was surfing with a group at Nelscott Reef, about half a mile off the coast of Lincoln City when the damage occurred on Friday, Jan. 13.

The 53-year-old said he got hit by consecutive waves and spent a fair amount of time trying to reconnect with his board, which was tethered to his ankle by a roughly 20-foot long cord.

“I think during that time while my board was away from me a shark bit it,” he said, pointing to a deep puncture mark that travels through to the other side of the board.

Harnack said he didn’t notice the damage until he got back to the shore.

“All the surfers concurred that there’s nothing else that could have done this,” Harnack said, adding that, in 40-foot water, there is no way his board could have gone down far enough to hit the sea floor.

The apparent attack comes less than three months after a shark attack off the shore of South Beach State Park near Newport left surfer Bobby Gumm missing the front of his board.

Fellow surfer John Forse, himself a shark attack survivor, said he plans to send images of Harnack’s board to shark expert Ralph Collier to see if he can determine the size of the creature involved.

Harnack, who has lived and surfed in Lincoln City for 13 years, said that while his board has surfed its last wave it’s not destined for the trash yet.

“I’ll probably keep it around as a conversation piece,” he said.

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