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Terror from Below

Lew Boren's kneeboard. Photo: Ben Lyon
Lew Boren, Monterey County. Photo: Patricia Kintz
Aussie shark hunter Bob Woodcock, 1981
Mick Fanning, 2015 J-Bay Open. Photo: WSL
Bethany Hamilton, 2016. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL

On Christmas Eve 1981, a 25-year-old wetsuit-clad Monterey County kneeboarder named Lew Boren was pulled from the shallows of Spanish Bay, near Pebble Beach. His corpse was bloodless, with a perfectly symmetrical armpit-to-hip bite taken out of his torso—the work of a 20-foot-long, 4,000-pound white shark. Surfing, again, was in the news. But this time around, the attention didn’t seem particularly sensationalized. Most surfers understood that the odds of getting hit by a shark were statistic...

For a month or so after Lew Boren's shark attack death, West Coast surfers paddled into the lineup like jittery late-night New Yorkers walking home while Son of Sam was still at large.