Border Open – October 2007

Location

Border open launchThe Border Undersea Club based in East London hosts the Border Open spearfishing competition yearly. It is normally held somewhere along the Transkei coast with this years event taking place at Hole-in-the-Wall. This rugged stretch of coastline has an abundance of fish life with a mix of the warmer and colder water species found in South African waters and is an amazing coast to spearfish on.

Build-Up

In the past the competition has always been held in September as this is generally a good weather month for this area and is before the spring rains start. This area has a number of big rivers flowing into the sea and once the rainy season has set in there is very little chance of finding diveable water. In 2006 the competition was undiveable due to poor conditions so it was moved to October for 2007. At one stage it looked like it might have to be called off for the second year running but the forecasted strong winds did not materialize and the event went ahead as scheduled.

Scouting

Most divers went down a day or two early to scout the area to get an idea of what the conditions were like and what the fish were doing. Murphy’s law stepped in here with an abundance of fish life the day before the competition but not many fish about on the day.

Rules

Boats were to meet behind backline off King and Queen rocks and dive six hours from the start time of 07:00. Divers were allowed one per species with a maximum of ten fish as per Sea Fisheries regulations with a size restriction of 5kg minimum on both the black and silver steenbras. This restriction was put in place by the organizers and although bigger than the minimum legal size was welcomed by all the divers.

Conditions on the day

Border openWith cleaner water north of the launch only one boat headed south where the viz was poorer but lots of fish had been seen the previous day in 3m viz on the bottom. There was a light northerly wind blowing with a fairly settled sea but a southerly ground swell would make for very unsettled seas later in the day. North bound boats found clean water with top to bottom visibility in 15m but there were few fish about in the seemingly ideal conditions. The southern areas had similar conditions to the day before when a lot of fish were seen. Clean water on top with the viz decreasing as you approach the bottom dropping to 3 to 4 meters. The current soon built up in the increasing northerly wind and a cold layer of water moved in on the bottom chasing all the fish and making for difficult diving conditions. By end of diving the north-easterly was blowing a good 20 knots and sea conditions had become rough.

Hard to Beat

The results were not as expected with two Natal divers taking the top places. Well done to Garreth Staat and Shane Breedt for placing first and second respectively. The rest of the top ten places were as follows; Terrence Roebert, Tony Swart, Jason Mair, John Little, Justin Sergant, Joe Terburgh, Corrie Versluis and Mark Ahlin.

Next Year

I will certainly be going to this competition next year as the spearfishing is superb in this area and it is a testing competition in that the area is not familiar to Natal divers and you are exploring exciting new reefs with the chance of shooting quality fish. The accommodation at Hole-in-the-Wall Hotel is very good in the self-catering units and reasonably priced and the location is amazing. Well done to the organizers for a great competition and to all the sponsors for their generous donation of prices. See you all next year. Safe diving, John.