Monday, October 20, 2008

More News from Venezuela



Firstly, an edited version of latest breaking news from Venezuela:

All the teams here now. Is about 23 countries. There is an obvious difference between the top and bottom teams. Some countries (including SA) have fit healthy looking athletes. Some countries have teams of Elephant seals. Some like Chile have 4 foot eight specials with tummies. Looks can be deceptive (or maybe not). I saw a huge guy do a 2.5 minute dive yesterday.
We spearfished outside the area yesterday. Landed some very good quality fish before lunch. All the other teams saw our catch. To put it mildly they were very impressed (but secretly incredulous.) No-one else here even sees what we land.

Moo(Alan Fraser) as usual has an eye for the special fish. He got a 10 kg Grouper plus a 7kg Snapper on top of his Barracuda Yesterday. Jaco as usual swims (kicks continually) - heaven help anyone that tries to follow him in the comp.

We caught a 6kg lobster in a cave at 32 meters. They are big and deep here. Never seen a cray that size before. I also saw the little skinny fisherman. He weighs about 50 kg and carries his 75 Yamaha outboard on his shoulders about 200 meters from his shed to his boat every day by himself.. They steal about 20 outboards in Venezuela every week so he has no choice.

Moo has a cut on his little toe (should be ok in 3 days) Moo knew a week ago what he wants to do in the comp. He has incredible fish sense (better than anyone I ever dived with ) He is over this scouting thing. He has gained at least 5 pounds and looks very fit now. The comp is quite tricky. Fish could be shallow, deep., in caves or the gamefish could be thick. Strategy will be along the following lines.

Day one (6 hour comp in scratch zone)

Dive on 14 small rocks found in the deep (all 35 to 38 meters) More current just means work harder. Everywhere else in the zone is a scratch.(70 divers) However wehave scouted and trained for months and am satisfied that all these rocks will be flattened. The Spanish cannot cover all the rocks all the time. Jaco has some shallow cave mining ideas plus a few other plans that are not finalized. Moo will decide on morning of comp. He is unfazed right now. Comp budget is 60 dives of 33 to 38 meters (1 min 20 to 1 min 45 each dive) Fish every 3 dives. Winning catch here estimated at 14 fish by the Marine biologists.

Day 2.(5 hour comp in good zone)

We will be tired. So will target the easy small gamefish in 25 meters for the first 2 hours. (Kingies., Bonito, Rainbow runner, Wahoo, barras) Then 2 hours on a small ledge (1 foot high in 36 meters) Is like a supermarket. Only issue is to get there before the Spanish (Joseba knows the ledge) Thereafter dive another place to shoot 10 small grunters in 30 meters. Plan B, just target 5 Barras . (we have had enough practice shooting them)

Jaco has a good spot for Rock Salmon elsewhere and this whole comp zone is quite fishy. Moo got a 20kg Cubera here last month. We have to first see if the gamefish are thick before we can rush for caves here. In scouting you can stab the Wahoo with your diving knife (not joking ask Mark) Also a big shoal of resident Barras.

So hold thumbs. We will be having big team plans closer to the time dependant on the water conditions.


Greg Lewis-Monto started the ball rolling by establishing the SAFA-COMMITTEE and SAFA-LIST e-mail lists where important news could be disseminated to key people in various parts of the country. John Little and Mark Jackson carried this on by establishing websites which carried news of happenings in our sport.

SAUFF have tried, during the latter half of 2007 and 2008 to carry on these early initiatives by trying to raise the level of awareness of our sport amongst all those who participate in it. They have done this by establishing a registration system online and then sending numerous Newsletters and Breaking News to all those who register. Then more recently we established our own SAUFF website.

Up until recently it seems that these initiatives were falling into a “black hole”, because other than e-mails from committee members or very occasionally from a registered member, complaining that he had paid but wasn’t registered and two or three from genuinely concerned members of our sport, like Richard Bruno, Craig Burmeister and Johan Jacobs and several overseas parties, no one else bothered to make comment about any aspect of our sport which might concern them or what had appeared in the newsletters. Certainly the silence on our appeals to raise funds for our team was almost deafening.

In the last weeks however, my e-mail inbox has been filled to overflowing. Much of this is very positive, with new registrations and renewals from those who joined in 2007 flowing in. For this we are extremely grateful. Some of the rest are now beginning to provide useful comment and ideas about how we your committee can work to improve our sport. Some are as a result of controversial statements (e-mails).

One such e-mail I sent in reply to one I received. I thought I had sent my reply only to the sender, and in it I was trying to point out, not to subtlety, and not too cleverly worded, that he had not taken the trouble to become a member of SAUFF. This e-mail was however forwarded to the SAFA-LIST in error on my part. I would thus like therefore to apologize unreservedly to Len Turner and James Lawson-Smith for the inference that were advocating that SAUFF do away with the R100 registration fee, when in reality they were suggesting that this might be a good idea in order to get more spearos to register and become members of SAUFF. Everyone knows of the contribution James has made to underwater fishing in SA in recent years and it is a simple matter to go onto the website to check that he is a registered member of SAUFF.


Another piece of interesting information from the SAMLMA meeting was that Hymie Steyn who is Conservation Officer for SA Angling is also a Vice President of FIPSA (The World Angling Body) and they have approximately 38 million registered members in 127 countries, making angling the biggest sport in the World.


I have attached a copy of advertorial which SUBTECH have paid to be placed in various news media. Please make a copy and put it on your club notice board.

Here is the advertorial:

THE South African Underwater Fishing
team will participate in the 26th World
Underwater Fishing Championships off
the Island of Margarita on the East Coast
of Venezuela from October 20-26, 2008.

The team qualified for the World
Championships by scoring a credible
ninth position at the European/Africa
zone qualifier in Rota – Cadiz, Spain,
competing against arguably the strongest
teams in the world in very challenging

In Venezuela, the conditions are very
similar to those on the KwaZulu-Natal
coast and with three of the four-man team
being Natalians, this will give South
Africa a small advantage and possibly
better its best result of seventh place.

The team members selected to
represent South Africa are:
q Gyula Plaganyi (Captain) – three
previous World Championships and
2007 Zone Qualifier
q Jaco Blignaut – seven times SA
Champion and previous SA Team to
q Alan (Moo) Fraser – First SA Colours
q Mark Jackson – SA Colours Zone
Qualifier 2007

Underwater fishing at an international
level is one of the most extreme sports in
the world. Free diving (without SCUBA)
for six hours per day at depths of between
10 and 45 metres, sometimes in strong
currents, with sharks and many other sea
creatures to contend with, is not for the
faint hearted.

The Europeans traditionally dominate
these competitions due to the extensive
sponsorship and endorsements that the
divers receive. With the best equipment
and support at their disposal, their teams
consist of professional divers. Our chaps
are at a massive disadvantage to start with
as all of the divers have full-time jobs and,
aside from commercial sponsorship, all
expenses are self-funded.
For the first time in the history of
South Africa’s participation at Worlds, the
SA divers have been able to raise
sufficient sponsorship to arrive at the
competition venue two months before the
event to scout, study the local conditions
and fish species, and familiarise
themselves with the underwater

Local knowledge is critical at
events such as this and the top teams in
the world have the resources to hire the
best local fishermen and spend months

Subtech has been a big supporter of
underwater fishing over the years and has
generously agreed to sponsor the costs for
the scouting boat prior to the competition
– this facilitating what will hopefully be
an upset victory over the Europeans.
Subtech is an international subsea
support company specialising in civil
marine construction and port expansion

The Underwater Fishermen of SA are
extremely grateful to Subtech for its
generous support and Subtech is hopeful
that this will contribute to the best ever
result for the South Africans.

“We wish the competitors good luck
and safe diving,” says Subtech.

Should the public wish to
contribute to the team’s costs or send
them any messages, please contact
Brent Addisson at or
SA team to participate in World
Underwater Fishing Championships

The South African
Underwater Fishing team is
proudly sponsored by
Tel: 031 206 2073
Fax: 031 205 7772
PO Box 18897, Dalbridge, 4014 South Africa

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