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Shark victim remembered in paddle-out

Family and friends of Zac Young pay tribute to the bodyboarder who was killed by a shark on Saturday. Nine News.

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''We just had to push through the truth that there's an eight-foot tiger shark underneath us.''

As 19-year-old Zac Young clung precariously to life in the surf on Saturday afternoon, three teenage boys put the bonds of friendship before their own safety.

(L) Shayden Schrader (15), Kurt Gillan (18) and Lindsy Isaac (14) getting consoled with a surfing friend.

Grief: The boys who brought Zac to shore, Shayden Schrader, left, Kurt Gillan and Lindsy Isaac. Photo: Lindsay Moller

''We just had to get him in, it was his last chance. If we didn't get him in he was at the bottom of the ocean,'' Lindsy Isaac said, fighting back tears.

''He couldn't feel it, but he knew it was a shark. He tried to fight it off. He was yelling for us to help him in, so we just had to paddle over to him and carry him in.''

Moments earlier, they had been having a great time, surfing The Well, a well-known break about 200 metres off Sapphire Beach, north of Coffs Harbour.

(R) Lindsy Isaac remembers Zac Young.

Sad farewell: Lindsy Isaac leads a parade of Zac's friends and family at a memorial service on Sunday morning. Photo: Lindsay Moller

Lindsy, 14, had been filming Zac, Kurt Gillan, 18, and 15-year-old Shayden Schrader showing off their moves when a shark ''came from right underneath'' them, savaging the 19-year-old.

''It was just so quick. We rushed towards him and Kurt Gillan bought him in, while I paddled as quick as I could to shore to get help,'' Lindsy said.

''I just threw my board on the shore and ran straight towards the nearest house and got help, called an ambulance, by the time he lost all of his blood.''

Zac Young.

Tragic loss: Zac Young. Photo: Supplied

As the boys paddled desperately to reach the beach, Zac slipped into unconsciousness, telling his friends: ''I love you, I love you guys so much.''

Zac's father, Kevin Young, paid tribute to the bravery of the trio, who joined hundreds at a memorial service in Zac's home town of Port Macquarie on Sunday morning.

''These three young guys didn't run, '' Mr Young said before hugging them. ''I want you to know these three guys.''

Through his tears, Lindsy said it was the ''scariest'' thing he had ever experienced. Asked if he felt they had been brave in those terrifying minutes, Lindsy replied: ''Certainly not as brave as I should of … It just should have gone the other way. We just did all we could.''

Mourners remembered the talented surfer and aspiring photographer in a service at The Point Community Church.

Just two years ago, Zac had turned his back on a wild, party lifestyle and was training with a Christian organisation, Youth for Christ.

''He was just the most amazing guy you could ever meet,'' Lindsy said. ''He was just so unique and he was just the one-off guy. He just had the best personality. You just can't describe it. I just can't believe he's gone.''

Asked if he would ever go back in the water after such a traumatic ordeal, Lindsy said: ''Yep. It's what Zac would have wanted.''

Shortly after the memorial service, he did. The three teens joined about 100 surfers and bodyboarders on Port Macquarie's Town Beach, where they joined in prayer. They then paddled out and held a minute's silence in a ring of tribute.

Three of Zac's seven siblings said he would not have wanted friends to mourn too long.

''In the wise words of Zaccy: Don't cry, keep your eyes dry, and get by,'' Michael Young said, flanked by brothers Sam and Tim.

Forensic specialists were expected to study the bite wounds on Zac's body to determine the species that killed the young surfer. Andrew Short, a professor of marine science at Sydney University, said unusually deep water on a small section of coast where Zac was surfing might have contributed to the shark coming so close to shore.

''[On Sapphire beach] you've got a mixture of sand and cobbles, compared to a Sydney beach where there's nice fine sand,'' Professor Short said.

''This coarser sediment means where you walk on the beach tends to be steeper, with deeper water closer to shore. It's one to two metres deep just off the beach … so that's a possibility why marine animals like sharks get access to that area.''

with Melanie Kembrey

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