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Local woman paddles to safety after apparent shark attack

SAN DIEGO -- A local woman's apparent encounter with a shark in Oceanside left her shaken and her high-end canoe damaged, but she was able to return to shore unharmed.

World class outrigger canoe paddler Julie Wolfe was about two miles off-shore from Oceanside Harbor Monday when what "felt like a car" hit her firmly from underneath the vessel.

Right away, she told FOX 5 she knew it was a shark.

"It's been a day already and -- I tell ya -- my heart is still racing now," Wolfe recalled Thursday. "I spun around and I paddled as fast as I could."

On the long, terrifying sprint to shore, the veteran paddler said her mind was racing. "I was thinking of my kids," she told FOX 5. She couldn't tell if she was being followed, but at one point Wolfe said she felt a "tug" on her paddle at the back of one of her strokes.

When she made it safely to shore, she immediately notified Harbor Patrol. Officials always approach shark sightings with a healthy dose of skepticism, but Wolfe's status as a world champion outrigger canoe racer makes her about as dependable a witness as there come.

And an inspection of her carbon fiber canoe revealed further evidence: a series of slashes, scrapes and holes resembling a bite. Experts are analyzing the damage to determine for certain if a shark -- and what species of shark, if so -- was responsible.

In the meantime, Wolfe told FOX 5 the startling experience won't keep her out of the ocean: "I need to get back in the saddle and go out today. Paddling in the ocean is my life -- I'm going out."

Wolfe is originally from Hawaii, and was a contestant on the popular Survivor reality show in 2011.

Because Wolfe's encounter was reported so far off-shore, officials in Oceanside have not issued a shark advisory.