It's not quite in the Mick Fanning division of shark encounters, but it's not too far off.
A brush with a three-and-a-half metre tiger shark certainly elevated Hayden Copping's heart rate barely an hour into a four-hour circumnavigation of the Hawaiian coastline last month.
Competing in his first-ever Blue Water Hawaiian Classic Pro Paddleboard Race on July 24, the Port Macquarie lifeguard just happened to see a white cap out the corner of his eye.
One kilometre out to sea, in 60 metres of water and with the nearest competitor 300 metres away closer to land, the 23-year-old acknowledged he had probably dodged a bullet.
"He was well-fed; our boards are three metres and he was bigger than that," he said.
"It's definitely up there with one of the biggest [sharks] I've seen, that's for sure. He would have been five metres to my left and was coming at quite a pace. I was lucky enough to get onto a run (of a wave) and then managed to sit back and take a look.
"I saw his stripes as he went straight under me and then he kept cruising which I was very thankful for, but he could have taken me if he wanted to."
Two-and-a-half hours later, Copping crossed the finish line seven minutes behind five-time winner and current world champion Stewart McLachlan - in second spot.
He admitted his thoughts eventually moved away from the brush with one of the world's most feared ocean predators, but it took a while.
The knowledge that it wasn't the first time he had encountered a shark after spending the previous five years as a professional lifeguard since he finished school helped. He's had closer encounters.
"I've got this mantra which I tell people and they think I'm crazy, where you're a harder target to hit if you're moving," he said.
"As long as I've got my hands in the water and I'm paddling I'm happy, but the water is about 60 metres deep out there so there were a few expletives when I first saw him (the shark)."
Pre-race Copping had set himself the goal of completing the course in under four hours.
Despite a number of challenges along the way which included the shift in tides and change in wind direction, he still managed to achieve it.
"It was probably four or five foot (of swell) on the beaches, but once we got around a couple of the headlands we were able to shoot along the [coastline] with it," he said.
"It was at that stage where the tiger shark came and said hello which was a bit how-you-going."
His second-place finish was also to training partner McLachlan, who has now won the race the last five times.
Copping has already pencilled in a crack at going one better next year.
"It's pretty special, I'm not going to lie. I was pretty chuffed when I crossed the line and I sat down and took it all in," he said.
"Looking towards next year I'm hungry to get back over there already. I've got a taste of second now and I really want first even though it was a really tough slog over the last 10 kays (when conditions changed)."
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