Saturday, July 12, 2008

Commentary on Spearfishing Competitions by Gyula Playani Springbok Spearo

I recently received a thought procoking article authored by Springbok Spearo Gyula Plagyani. Gyula is a very experienced spearo and besides being a strong diver he is also very sharp - fills some of his time playing chess and he has a chartered accounts qualification too. I have dived on a number of occasions with Gyula and have learned a great deal from his methods and partculalry from his mindset. Mark Jackson will agree wholeheartedly.



Gyula with two nice sargos taken at Trafalgar, Spain.

Let's see what Gyula has to say:

Why Competition?

Imagine a world without a golf handicap. Without the football results on a Monday morning. Imagine a Wimbledon without a final. A chess game without checkmate.
Everyone just hits the ball around or does as they please. No real rules No-one keeps score. There are no goals , winners or losers. All matches are a draw. Wouldn’t that be boring? No, maybe it would be OK for a while. …but then what?
There would be no incentive to improve, to test new ideas, to push the limits. There would be no need to try carbon fibre, spring stainless steel, or replace Rhinohide with Yamamoto 45. Team dynamics wouldn’t matter. Manchester united would have a grey jersey.

Or we could live in a world where top sportsmen are talented, branded and sponsored by manufacturers eager to shift the goalposts . With great talent comes great responsibility for these elite to act as good role models for club, county or country. Or even for their unborn children. Where technology and skill combine to separate the best from the rest. Where success is measured. Where sports visionaries take us to new heights…or depths.

Where divers compete in the same zone at the same time, competing for the same fish. Are they sportsmen or primitive hunters? Personally I prefer a kill shot. I do not encourage suffering or struggling of my prey. I respect and consume and do not select unnecessarily. The rules are the same for everyone. Explore the zone, know your equipment, study the fish species and behaviour. Work on your fitness and stealth. Big fish, little fish, sneaky fish, shoal fish or lone fish. Ultimately it is you against the fish. The results are sometimes not as important as getting a good catch- or are they?

Everything is relative and there is nothing as satisfying as knowing you did your best on a level playing field and your catch has merit. Yes, your biggest fish was only 1.5kg but for that area the Red Mullet (goatfish) was a beauty. What’s the point of taking a photo of a 15.2 kg Cobia in Brazil when the average weight of Cobia there is 30 kg ? Yes, take the picture to boast to your mates back home, but be man enough to mention that you could have done better. Is bigger always better. Not in some competitions! These are the ones I support. Where difficult or sustainable species have bonus points.

So how exactly do we measure how we could do better? We look at stats. We check what other divers are getting. We put our reputation on the line. We compete more than once. If we fail we try again, only harder or smarter. We look, learn and ultimately close the gap on those whose ability initially was out of reach. We target species that initially we didn’t even know lived in our area. We travel to other peoples areas. We interact and learn more and share more information with others. We meet competent people. Some we bond with, others we respect from a distance.

A good competition diver is the product of a lot of sweat and prior mistakes. He has a good support structure (thank you friends and family and sponsors) He has learnt to limit his bad days and maximise the good ones. In fact the definition of good is when you make things seem easy. Spearfishing is not easy. It is only easy when you are good and then you go to a competition somewhere and get cleaned up.

Then you start all over again- at the bottom of the ranking table. Someone had to come last. Maybe this idea of social glory hunting is more appealing. At least no one will know how many days you spent with empty stringers. This competition thing is too difficult…. because if you can then why not do it? You might surprise yourself or realise that the more you criticize or know the more there is that you do not know. The truth is that the Blue Fin Tuna is on the verge of extinction. I guarantee you that that 1.5kg red mullet is only one from a sustainable biomass. Gamefish are not bottomless. Spread the load amongst the species and there will be sustainable stocks. That is the basis of the modern competition era.

And surely the ultimate knowledge of your quarry or truth of effort and reward is the holy grail !!

I rest my case and pledge to make all South Africans proud of the 2008 team for Venezuela.

So how much do you intend to pledge?

Thank You

Gyula Plaganyi (Team Capitain)

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