South African National Spearfishing Championships – May 2010

Location

The Nationals were hosted by the Natal Underwater Union with the hub being the Durban Undersea Club. This club was started by spearfishermen in 1951 and now boasts over 1000 members. Nationals are dived over four days (3 May – 7 May) with the first two days being the open individual competition and the next two days being the team event. There is a compulsory rest day after two consecutive days of diving as per the constitution. The four areas from the south were: Warners to Brighton, Cutting to Cave Rock, Umhlanga lighthouse to Umdloti river mouth, Chain Pool to Westbrook.

Teams

Sixteen teams entered the Nationals of which two were from Croatia. The bulk of the teams were from the Natal Province comprising of Midlands, Southern Natal and Natal. Only two teams from Gauteng and another two from the Eastern Cape made up the away teams.

Day One

The area chosen for the first day was the Bluff, Cutting to Cave Rock. Although the weather was settled there was a big ground swell running and the visibility ranged from four meters at best down to zero over large parts of the area. No current to speak of and a water temperature of twenty four centigrade. If you weighed-in five fish on this day you were doing well with only a few of the top spearos managing to find their ten species. A real scratch of a day with worse still to come.

Day Two

The first of the northern areas Umhlanga Lighthouse to Umdloti River Mouth was the area for the second day of the individuals. A decision was taken for all the boats to meet off river mouth instead of one boat being sent to check the conditions before giving the go-ahead for the day. The big ground swell had not abated from the previous day and looked to be even bigger. This was bringing in cold yellow water from the deep and conditions were very grim. There was a tiny patch of marginally diveable conditions just south of the river mouth and this is where all the divers hunted for their bags. Once again a big scratch in difficult conditions with the day shortened owing to dangerous diving conditions.

Day Three

After the compulsory rest day the first day of the team events was dived in the southern most area, Warners to Brighton. The swell had subsided and a boat was sent to check out the visibility which was top to bottom off Warners. This was unfortunately not made clear to most of the divers and to me was an unfair advantage taken by those divers that checked the viz. Something to make a note of for future competitions. There was once again little current but poor visibility in the north of the area made for hard diving. Some excellent bags weighed in with a number of teams weighing-in their thirty fish.

Day Four

The Bluff once again but in excellent conditions with viz ranging from top to bottom to six meters and twenty six degree water. A slight current to begin with that dropped-off as the day wore on. Great bags again with a number of teams making the thirty fish full bag limit. The full results can be viewed on the site.

Points of Interest

The Croatian team are full time divers and are paid by their government as is any National athlete in Croatia. They are phenomenal spearfishermen. Safety should be the first consideration in any spearfishing competition and there needs to be a minimum visibility requirement for a National Championships to be held. This would also depend on the area being dived with perhaps some of the Cape areas needing better viz due to the possibility of great white sharks being encountered. Guys need to be aware of the constitution as some of the debated points need not have been if one was familiar with the constitution. Despite one or two niggles it was a great Nationals and the organisers did a great job. Next year it will be in the Cape and the Cape boys can expect some serious competition from the Natal spearos who will be sending down a number of teams. The results are posted here in excel format.

Safe diving, John Little.