South African Spearfishing Trials – March 2009

Protea Trials

Spearfishing trials were held on the Natal coast recently to choose the top six divers for two international teams to compete against an Australian side this year in May. Area dived was Deep Scottburgh together with Nineteen Fathoms and the trials were  over two days.


Springbok trials March 2009 - L to R James lawson-Smith, Andrew henwood, Angelo Spada springbok trials March 2009 - L to R James , Angelo , Chris , Bakkie Rob  Andrew , Brod ,Gareth , Fred , Carl , bakkie Clark , front John girdza, Jeremy Williams, Ryan

Day one had a light southerly blowing for most of the day with overcast skies. Water visibility was good at forty foot with a strong south to north current running with a thermocline at fifty foot. Most of the diving was done in twenty three meters plus with the depth of Nineteen Fathoms being closer to thirty meters. Day two had similar sea conditions to day one with clear skies and a light north-easterly wind picking up later in the day. The areas chosen for day two were a lot shallower and most of the diving was done in fifteen to twenty meters.


The system used in these trials was excellent and all credit must go to John Girdza and Jeremy Williams for the implementation of what is sure to be a much used system in the future. A marker buoy located the starting point for all the divers and two hours was allocated for each area chosen. Divers were then able to dive in a hundred meter strip down from the marker buoy the only stipulation being that once you got back on the boat you could only be dropped back at the marker. This system contains the divers in a relatively small area and prior knowledge of hot spots is largely negated which puts the focus more on the divers ability and fish sense as opposed to locating hot spots on a GPS. Floats had to be used and are critical in this system as boat skippers need to be able to locate divers accurately with so many spearos working a small area. This is the only down side of this method.


Day one the placings were:

  1. James Lawson
  2. Brod Whittaker
  3. Ryan Burmester
  4. Gareth Staats
  5. Carl Werner
  6. Andrew Henwood
  7. Fred Bester
  8. Angelo Spada
  9. Chris West.

Day two placings were:

  1. Brod Whittaker
  2. Angelo Spada
  3. James Lawson-Smith
  4. Gareth Staats
  5. Andrew Henwood
  6. Ryan Burmester
  7. Fred Bester
  8. Carl Werner
  9. Chris West

These placings are going to be used in conjunction with past National results to decide the final top six divers.

Items of Interest

 The sharks in this area are really becoming a problem with tiger sharks eating divers floats and trying to take shot fish. Some divers seeing four tigers on a down and blacktip sharks making a nuisance of themselves when fish are shot. The chumming to attract sharks into the area is certainly working and hopefully it will not all end in tears and at the expense of a spearfisherman.

Safe diving, John Little.