Matt Wilkinson on his way to a win in Fiji

Pro-surfer Matt Wilkinson has narrowly avoided a shark attack while surfing near Ballina, on NSW North Coast, in a terrifying encounter captured on camera.

A NSW Surf Life Saving drone alerted Wilkinson to the shark circling at Sharpes Beach.

“I heard a little splash behind me, looked back and there was nothing there, and then the lifeguards drone came down and said that there was a dangerous shark in the area,” he said.

“The shark had kind of come at me from in front and then went around the back and had a little go at my legs, then last minute decided that my feet stunk or something and turned away.”

It’s not yet known what kind of shark it was.

“It could have been either a little white or a bull shark or a bronzie,” Wilkinson said.

“It was probably about 8 foot long, it looked like it was a few feet longer than me,” he said.

Surfer Matt Wilkinson said the shark was about 2.5 metres long.(Source: WSL/Sloane)

The 32-year-old said while he has surfed near sharks in the past, this was incomparable.

“I’m feeling pretty lucky,” he said.

“We get to see sharks a little bit out in the surf but that was definitely my closest encounter and I hope it doesn’t get any closer than that.”

It’s a survival story he now shares with fellow Australian three-time world champion surfer, Mick Fanning, who was attacked by a shark at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa in 2015.

“His one was a little bit more wild than mine, but I guess I got to feel that weird, heart-sinking but lucky feeling when I saw that footage,” Wilkinson said.

“But I’m still here in one piece and I’ll live to surf another day.”

Wilkinson began competing in the World Surf League in 2006 and finished the season ranked No.5 in 2016 and 2017.

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