Jan 1 2013 by Perthshire Advertiser, Perthshire Advertiser
A man who grew up in the Perth area is counting his blessings after surviving a shark attack off the coast of Australia.
Richard Wands, an ex-Strathallan pupil from Forgandenny, was enjoying getting out on his surfboard in the crystal clear waters of Trigg Bay near Perth, Australia on December 22.
Minutes after getting in the water he was terrified to be eyeballed by a tiger shark that had lined him up for dinner.
The 33-year-old bravely bashed the 7ft predator in the face with his board and lived to tell the tale.The story of the quick-thinking Scot and his narrow escape has amazed people around the world.
Richard Wands had been working in the oil industry in Aberdeen, until eight months ago he moved down under after taking a contract with an Australian oil company drilling on the coastal shelf.
He’d joked with family at the time it was a great job for him as it would give him plenty of opportunities to surf.
Richard first got the surfing bug as a youngster on holidays to Caithness where his grandparents lived. He told reporters afterwards how the tiger shark came at him.
“I saw its whole face right in front of me,” he said. “I was treading water, with my head only slightly above the water.
“This thing was looking for a limb, if not more. I was totally scared.”
The predator came at him twice before Richard was able to flee for the shore unscathed.
A wave arrived at just the right time, helping him speed on his board back to shore.
Richard ran more than 300 yards to alert the lifeguard and yelled at surfers still in the water to get out.
His father, Andrew Wands is a retired teacher who taught English at Crieff’s Ardvreck School and was a geography teacher and house master at Strathallan.
Speaking yesterday from his new home in Caithness, Andrew Wands (66) told The PA of his relief at hearing of Richard’s lucky escape.
“We got a phone call from Richard, saying: ‘You’ve probably heard, but it’s ok, I’m not hurt’. Last time he said something like that to us it was years ago after he went skydiving and his parachute hadn’t opened!
“My heart was in my mouth as he explained about the shark. I’m just delighted he wasn’t bitten.”
Amazingly, drilling engineer Richard emailed his twin brother Christopher with a picture of himself on the beach, just moments before the shark went for him.
Twin brother Christopher said: “I was in Glasgow where I work, sitting up late at my computer at about 12.30am when this random message from Richard in Australia popped up.
“He just said teasingly, ‘This is where I am, I’m off to catch some waves!’. It’s odd he chose to do that. As brothers we’re close, but that doesn’t mean he messages me every time he does something.”
Two hours later Christopher got another picture message from his twin, this time telling the tale of his ordeal.
“It was 2.15am, I was still up, and wasn’t surprised after the first message from Richard that he’d sent another. I couldn’t believe it when he said he’d just been attacked by a monster shark. After great whites, tiger sharks are the next most deadly species to humans.”
“Richard’s coming back to Scotland in February to meet up and then we’re off skiing in the alps together,” Christopher added. “So it’s a good thing he’s still got all his limbs!”