DON’T live in fear.
They are the four words that have changed Shayden Schrader’s outlook on life.
Four years ago, the bodyboarder and friends Lindsey Davis, Kurt Gillan and Zac Young were at Coffs Harbour doing what they always did: catching waves and having a good time.
But everything changed that afternoon.
As they waited for the next wave, a three-metre tiger shark grabbed Young by the calf.
The trio fought back and helped the teenager back to the beach, putting him on their shoulders and then commencing CPR until emergency services arrived.
“It still affects me a bit and I’m on edge out at reefs when the water is a bit murky,” Schrader said.
“I remember pretty much the whole thing; I watched it all unfold and we did what we could to get him in,” he said.
“We had no idea how bad it was at the time and you see people live from worse, but it does take you by surprise.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
It’s why this weekend’s David Gosby Memorial Contest holds so much meaning for those involved.
The event remembers those in the bodyboarding community who have passed away.
The four words Young said to Schrader has helped him overcome the mental demons and continue on the path to a career on the world stage.
It still affects me a bit and I’m on edge out at reefs when the water is a bit murky.Shayden Schrader
Schrader said he never considered not returning to the water, but was now more aware when out the back waiting for a wave.
“I’ve got a strong passion for the sport and it’s something I want to take far in life,” he said.
“Sometimes you do jump at shadows, but it’s the ocean, they (sharks) are always going to be there.”
At the start of the year, the teenager headed to Hawaii as part of the first stop on the world tour.
He was happy with his performance and indicated he would like to return.
Sometimes you do jump at shadows, but it’s the ocean, they (sharks) are always going to be there.Shayden Schrader
“I got some wild waves in Hawaii and it was my first time over there,” he said.
“It was a great experience and I’d definitely like to go back there as much as I can.”
But for now, his focus is on bouncing back from a disappointing effort at last year’s memorial.
The three-time winner of the event has even stoked the fire with some light-hearted banter.
“I reckon Kingy’s gotten old and he’s washed up and got nothing left in him,” he said.
Almost 40 competitors will take to the waves from 8am on Sunday morning at Lighthouse Beach, weather conditions permitting.