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Former F1 star Eddie Irvine has close encounter with a shark

Feb 2, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

Eddie Irvine Portrait Getty Images

Retired Formula One star Eddie Irvine faced a lot of battles in his racing career, but likely nothing like the recent run-in he had with a shark.

According to a BBC report, the former Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar F1 pilot was swimming and spear fishing for dinner in the Atlantic Ocean near his home in the Bahamas when he came face-to-face with a shark.

“I hit a big snapper, but the spear went right through it,” Irvine said. “A big ray came past me and behind it was a seven-foot lemon shark. It was swimming more aggressively than I had seen before.”

The question of whether the shark wanted to get the 48-year-old former F1 star’s autograph or potentially wanted to see what the Northern Ireland native tasted like was never answered, as Irvine wisely put himself in reverse and started working his way back to land in almost slow-motion so as not to spook the shark.

“I watched him and started making for shore and he started to follow me,” Irvine said. “I swam backwards keeping my eye on him and he circled again – then he just came straight for me.”

After keeping its distance, the shark began to zero in on Irvine, who was forced to use his spear as a weapon to keep the shark at bay.

“My island is surrounded by (sharks), but normally they are just three or four footers,” Irvine said. “There was nothing I could do until he got within about three feet, when I could jab him with my spear.”

Irvine said he hit the shark “somewhere on the nose,” causing it to temporarily retreat before coming back for more.

Fortunately for Irvine, he was able to get to some nearby rocks and climbed out of harms way.

“There are lots of sharks here,” he said, “I saw a 12-foot tiger the other day from the boat.”

Video from NASCAR America

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