Michael Skogg is one lucky surfer. He survived a potential attack by a great white shark, he reports, and he owes his survival to a device known as “Sharkbanz.”
Skogg, 51, is a fitness authority and strength coach. “I run workshops all over the world,” he told me from his Portland fitness studio. “I’m the guy people call to get trained up. Skoggkettlebell.com.”
Q: You are a very lucky guy. Can you take your story from the beginning?
Skogg: I went to Hawaii on a surf trip in January. As I was planning my trip to Hawaii, and in my research, I noticed it was a place with a lot of tiger sharks.
I read in my research it was a species Sharkbanz was effective with.
Q: What is Sharkbanz?
Skogg: It’s like a watchband — essentially a big, thick, chunky-looking bracelet that has a magnet right in the center.
It’s rubber and has quite a few different adjustment slots.
It puts out a circle around you like a protective barrier about five or six feet. I’m told it messes with a shark’s sensory organs.
Q: You didn’t have any shark encounters in Hawaii?
Skogg: Nothing happened in Hawaii, obviously — a good trip.
But a buddy of mine I went to Hawaii with ended up getting attacked in Pacific City.
He got pulled off the back of his board, and that kind of spooked me.
I’m the type of guy who thinks to be overinsured doesn’t exist. I bought a second one (Sharkbanz) for my wrist.
Q: Tell me about your experience in Seaside.
Skogg: I go to Seaside once a week. Have for two years. I come to recharge my battery and I’m back in Portland — it’s an easy day trip. This happened to be a Wednesday.
I was there with a buddy. It was a stormy day, but we found a sun patch right over the Cove. Maybe five of us there total.
I was quite a ways outside, a good 200 yards from shore, maybe a little more. There were other surfers in the water, but not near me — more toward the shore and toward the Point.
As a paddle surfer, I kind of get pushed out to the left, so I’m picking up all the lefts. That’s surfer’s left. I was all by myself in my area.
I had just gotten thumped by a cleanup set and I was swimming back to my board when a dorsal fin broke between my board and me. It was a big, dark fin, and it was coming at me hard. When this thing broke, it was so fast I blinked my eyes several times thinking I was seeing things — and I wasn’t. It was coming right at me.
I put my paddleboard in front of me with my right hand and grabbed the middle of it with my left hand to brace myself.
I’m bobbing with my head above water, this fin standing above my head. I can’t determine how large it was, but it was much, much bigger than me.
It got within five or six feet and thrashed really hard — then suddenly made a hard left, and swam out of there.
The force of this thing, churning, dragged me behind it — I knew it was big.
In that moment I was ready to fight. That’s where my head went: I’m going to fight this thing because I’m not going to swim away from it.
Q: Had you ever encountered a shark before this?
Q: Were you scared?
Skogg: Oh my gosh — it was so fast! I don’t think that fear every really entered my head.
Once the whole thing had passed, I got back on my board and made it into shore.
I was driving home and I could have cracked my steering wheel in half I was gripping it so tight. Then my adrenaline wore off and I was exhausted. I had to pull over and get out and walk around.
I’ve never experienced anything like it honestly.
Q: Were there witnesses?
Skogg: When I went to shore, I loaded my board on my truck and I was standing there pacing. There’s an old-timer there, I see quite often, he has a white helmet. I’m talking to him and I said, “I just had an encounter.” He said, “Yeah, it’s pretty sharky around here!”
My buddy, who was still in the water, out at the Point, because it was firing that day, he was catching rides but there was no way in hell I was going back in to warn him. I waited around for a little bit, and finally I said, “I’m out of here. I’ll call him on my drive.”
Actually he called me when I was heading back. “What happened to you?”
I gave him the low-down. He was pretty shocked himself.
I think he was a little pissed for not flagging him, but what do you do? The guy was 500 yards from me, easy, at the point of contact.
Q: What makes you think Sharkbanz saved you? Because you survived?
Skogg: I don’t know! Maybe God put his hand down between the two of us. I have no idea.
But this thing was coming hard and coming fast, and I had just enough time to position my paddle between us and it thrashed hard and took off, and my paddle isn’t anything special.
I had one (Sharkbanz) on my wrist and I had one on my ankle, the opposite side, which they later told me is probably the best configuration you can do because of the diameter of protection. You’re in the middle of this thing, with a 6-to-10-feet magnetic shield around you.
It seemed this thing almost hit the wall, it stopped so abruptly and then spun and made a hard left like a 90-degree turn, a big old thrust —and was gone. It was an incredible force.
Q: Did you intend to become a Surfbanz company spokesman?
Skogg: The only reason I even have involvement with Surfbanz is because I went to my local surf shop and was telling the owners about this band I have, thinking this was a deciding factor in my outcome.
They got spooked and they got on the horn right away and called to set up an account.
One of the owners of Surfbanz shared my story. Then they reached out to me and asked if I’d give my testimonial.