Jason Breen didn’t think his GoPro was turned on to capture what happened while he was wingfoiling at a Sydney beach on Wednesday. Luckily it was, otherwise he thinks nobody would have believed him.
The 55-year-old Newport resident was cruising along the water at Mona Vale beach when a humpback whale soared out of the water and landed on top of him, dragging him about 20 to 30 feet below the surface.
“Shit, I just got hit by a whale,” Breen says in the video.
“I thought I was gone to be honest,” he said later. “I thought for a few seconds, ‘This is what it’s like to die.’”
As he wrestled beneath the whale, he could feel its smooth skin against his own, leading him to believe it was a juvenile.
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On a headland above, a bystander saw it unfold, and had punched triple 0 into his phone, waiting to see if Breen resurfaced.
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Then his leg rope snapped, and he clawed his way back to the surface and to his board. When he made it to the shore, he saw some mates and told them what happened.
“They just went ‘Yeah, sure!’” Breen said. “They thought I was telling a made up story, then I realised my GoPro had captured it all.”
The bystander on the headland had also happened to be filming Breen wingfoiling across the beach just as the whale breached and landed on top of him. Wingfoiling is similar to wind surfing.
Last month, a 61-year-old man died after a whale struck his boat in Botany Bay and flung him and another man into the bay. Police believe the whale “may have breached near the boat, or on to the boat”.
Breen said he was lucky it was a juvenile whale. If it was an adult, he doesn’t think he’d be alive to tell the tale.
“There’s no way I’d be here, like I’d be gone for sure.” he said. “It was really a one in a million.”
The headline, subheading, text and caption of this article were amended on 26 October 2023 to refer to Jason Breen wingfoiling, rather than windsurfing or windfoiling as an earlier version said.