The Championships

Winner-Arnold PiccoliI recently took part in the 57th Australian Spearfishing Championships 2009 which was held in Western Australia. The area is actually called the South western region and our home base was at a small town called Dunsborough about three hours drive south of Perth. I only managed to scout two of the seven proposed areas before the comp and so went into it pretty blind. I also had to learn the various fish species off by heart the night before the comp after everyone is issued with an 'eligible fish list' at sign on. If the fish is not on the list and does not meet the minimum set weight, then it does not count. Fairly challenging. Nevertheless, only the first fish shot by me was not on the list (Zebra fish with yellow stripes on a brown body). The rest of them were eligible but alas, a few did not weigh over the next couple of days.

 Day One

Day one was dived at Hamlen Bay. All the competitors start at in a demarcated area on the beach and have to swim out from there to the chosen dive site. The comps are six hours long and one has to 'sign off' at the exact same place on the beach before six hours are up. Its a marathon of a swim to any decent reef and I reckon that I comfortably swam 3-5 kms on day one. One big finswim. The viz was 6-8m with a water temp of around 21 degrees. The first day saw me weigh in seven fish which got me 19th place out of the 48 divers competing. The top divers shot 10-13 fish. 

 Day Two

11.5kg Samson fish biggest gamefish shot by graham carlisleDay two was dedicated to the 350 m finswim and 2 hour underwater filmfishing event, both held at Busselton Jetty. Dr. Adam Smith is the master at this event and won it hands down. For the filmfishing event you get issued with another species list and a disposable underwater camera. The list has more fish on it (which required more learning) and each species is allocated points depending on its difficulty to photograph. You only have 20 frames from the first one which is taken of you. Only the eligible species count and only the first twenty frames. Only one photo per species. The points from these events go towards the spearing events scores to determine who the best all-rounder or 'Superdiver' is. 

Day Three

Day Three saw us dive at Canal Rocks. Some divers (Tony Huegh and Piccoli) were still freestyle swimming an hour into the competition in order to reach their dive spot (The Indicators-rocks sticking out of the ocean about 1.5km out and 2 & 4 km out from the start point respectively). This day saw me shoot 12 fish but only weigh 8. Some close ones. I managed an 11.5 kg Samson Fish which turned out to be both the biggest fish and gamefish of the comp. This weight put me around 13th for the day. Conditions were good with 5-7m of viz. 

Day Four

The final and fourth day of the comp was dived at Moses Rock. A deeper dive than the previous two days with an average of 16-18m in depth. The viz had improved to around 8m. This was one of the tougher days for fish with some divers blanking or weighing in only 2 or 3 fish. I shot 9 fish with 8 weighing which placed me in tenth position for the day. I ended up 9th in the seniors and an overall place of 13th.

Tough Conditions 

Tony-Balchin Groper wins most Meritorious fishThe diving was tough from an endurance point of view. The swims are epic and one has to tow an 11 liter float with an Alpha flag, whistle, signaling mirror and reflective tape. I took two guns: my 82 cm OMER and on day 1 my 1.2m Rob Allen Carbon reelgun/Day 2 & 3 my 1m Rob Allen Carbon reelgun. I only shot two fish (Sea Sweep & Samson fish) with the 1m long gun. The rest of the fish were shot with the 82 cm barrel. Most of the Australian divers used long guns (1.1 to 1.4 m barrels), but it is impossible to comfortably work any of the magnificent caves found in the Limestone and Granite reef structure. No torches are allowed, so many of the divers choose to 'chum' in order to bring the fish out of their hiding places and then shoot them from a long distance. However, a 1.4m is not the choice of weapon when trying to subdue a 500grm King Wrasse.

 Day Five

Day 5 was dedicated to another competition where only the top ten divers were eligible to dive as pairs in order to select teams to compete in the 'Inter-pacific comp'. So, after 5 days of nonstop diving for the top ten divers and four for the rest of the field, most decided to have any early night on Friday and save themselves for prize giving which was held on the Saturday evening. Fun was had by all and some commendable efforts were made by the juniors (15-18 yrs old) with Jayme Lee cleaning up both the juniors and women's. Arnold Piccoli won the championship. Tony Huegh won the most meritorious fish trophy and came third overall.

I certainly look forward to the next comp and wish you folks all the best for your upcoming nationals.

Keep well and stay safe.

Kind regards


JUNIORS   Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Neilsen   Jayme-Lee   QLD   135.37
   2   Macneill   Jordan   WA   112.22
   3   Morton   Jozua (Joz)   NSW   103.71
   4   Falzon   Claye   NSW   81.19
INTERMEDIATES   Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Herbert   Dwayne   NZ   258.90
   2   Lavender   Jack   NSW   173.72
   3   Schulter   Ryan   NSW   165.88
   4   Elliott   Leigh   VIC   154.26
   5   Saunders   Michael   QLD   113.36
LADIES   Place   Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Neilsen   Jayme-Lee   QLD   135.37
   2   Stacey   Mary-Anne   SA   115.57
SENIORS   Place   Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Smith   Adam   QLD   252.74
   2   Fenney   Drew   VIC   247.74
   3   Sutcliffe   David   WA   215.71
   4   Dufall   Derek   WA   209.02
   5   DeVries   Ric   VIC   208.14
   6   Fitzmaurice   Shane   NZ   207.77
   7   Petersen   Murray   VIC   195.31
   8   Nilsson-Linne   Cameron   WA   190.66
   9   Carlisle   Graham   WA   180.92
   10   Bunney   Stephen   NSW   171.93
   11   Felton   John   WA   161.00
   12   Lane   Damian   WA   153.72
   13   Neilsen   Tim   QLD   143.87
   14   Carter   Warren   NSW   143.20
   15   Arentz   Michael   NSW   143.11
   16   Wills   Rob   NSW   136.42
   17   MonaghanChris    VIC   135.85
   18   Underhay   Glen   WA   95.71
   19   Chave    Matt   WA   91.63
   20   Wilkinson   Jamie   WA   90.71
   21   Davies   Paul   WA   89.35
   22   Davies   Guy   WA   81.68
   23   Bond   David   WA   74.08
   24   Loxton   Spencer   WA   60.41
   25   Fylnn   Mark   WA   52.17
VETERANS   Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Piccoli   Arnold   WA   279.93
   2   Huegh   Tony   QLD   255.16
   3   Pfrengle   Gunther   NSW   233.46
   4   Schulter   John   NSW   172.46
   5   Falzon   Jesmond   NSW   133.62
MASTERS      Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Bunney   George   NSW   89.28
OPEN   place    Surname   Name   State   TOTAL
   1   Piccoli   Arnold   WA   279.93
   2   Herbert   Dwayne   NZ   258.90
   3   Huegh   Tony   QLD   255.16
   4   Smith   Adam   QLD   252.74