South Island Spearfishing Championships
by Anne Neumann
Waitangi weekend (6 February 2010) is the traditional time for the South Island Spearfishing/Photography Championships, usually heralded by outstanding weather – and this year was no different. Hosted by the Nelson Underwater Club, around 30 competitors took part in a range of disciplines, including the traditional spearfishing section, several photography competitions open to scuba divers plus the new Wettie New Era trophy sponsored by Darren Sheilds.
The venue selected was Titi Island in the outer Marlborough Sounds, well away from the blue cod exclusion zone. Clear blue skies and a flat sea promised an awesome day, and the green water with an average visibility of five metres just added to the challenge ahead.
The four hour competition saw most competitors circumnavigate the island and a great day out for all. The fish caught were filleted and prepared in a variety of ways, much enjoyed by the crowd waiting for the judges calls.
Tim Barnett and Alan Drake made no mistakes in securing the open spearfishing trophies, with Bryce Dixon and Phil Goodall taking out the Wettie New Era trophy.
List of winners and points for South Island Spearfishing Championships
Orbell Trophy Tim Barnett/Alan Drake
Sterling Sports Rex Bricknell/Quenton Stephens
Halicione Shield Tim Barnett/Alan Drake
Queen Charlotte Aaron Baker/Craig Wiechern
Open Junior and South Island Junior Joshua MacDonald-Davis
Highest Individual Tim Barnett
Biggest Fish Geoff Laing
Veteran Trophy Rex Bricknell/Quenton Stephens
Greenbone Trophy Tim Barnett
Meritorious Fish Joshua MacDonald-Davis
Wettie New Era
1st Phil Goodall/Bryce Dixon
2nd Darren Sheilds/Gemma Shields,
3rd Mark Roden/Andrew MacDonald
Points for spearfishing only
Tim Barnett/Alan Drake – 804
Nigel/Geoff Laing – 588
Brian David/Joshua MacDonald Davis – 459
Rex Bricknell/Quenton Stephens – 441
Michael Ponder/Adam Gutsell – 338
Kelvin Milne/Andrew Parker – 241
Craig Wiechern/Aaron Baker – 252
Southern Charter and Marine Trophy Phil Goodall
Tyrone Tap Trophy Anna Barnett
Tyrone Bearing Anne Neumann
Randle Trophy Phil Goodall/Bryce Dixon
Mark your calendar for next years event
Wettie New Era Spearfishing Competition
By Darren Shields
I am a spear fisherman through and through. I love to shoot fish as much as the next man but I have come to realise that the amount of fish we shoot in competitions, especially the species we would not target on a normal day out, is not acceptable. As the population grows and numbers increase so too does the number of hunter gatherers.
For a long time I have had the idea of combining a spearfishing competition with taking photographs. Mark Roden from the Nelson Underwater Club agreed to let me run a trial event alongside the recently held South Island Spearfishing Champs. We ironed out a few of the finer details and the Wettie New Era event was born.
We would have a list of five good eating fish that could be speared and a list of 22 fish that could be photographed. Each speared and photographed fish was worth 100 points, 10 points per kilogram was awarded to the weight of the fish speared. You could only present 24 photographs to the judges who would then check each photo and award you for each specie they could recognise from your collection.
At sign-on for the event there was a lot of interest in the new concept. By the time all entries were in, 50% of competitors, some there only because of its concept, had signed up to compete. I had hoped for a third and half was extremely encouraging clearly indicating there is a ground swell of people thinking along the same lines.
I was to dive with my daughter Gemma, which I was looking forward to. We were soon heading out from Elaine Bay in the Marlborough Sounds to our destination at Titi Island. The visibility was not as good as we hoped but was soon forgotten as we were swept up in the challenge of deciding whether to shoot a fish or photograph it.
Gemma and I didnt know the area but soon worked out a couple of points that held fish and we worked these for the four hours available. I speared our last fish with 10 minutes of the competition left.
I had also put forward to Mark the idea to cook some of the catch as it was weighed in. The Nelson boys took this on and did not disappoint. At weigh-in time they had done an amazing job setting up the weigh-in area with a fillet bench and BBQs to cook fresh fish and paua for the competitors. This went down a treat, especially the sashimi tarakihi that was served as we weighed-in.
At the end of the event Gemma and I weighed in the most on the combined event of four fish. We were beaten by Phil Goodall and his partner Bryce who weighed in three speared fish but had more species photographed. Third place Mark and Andrew weighed in two speared fish, between us we weighed in the same amount as the top spearfishing pair who weighed in nine fish. My idea to take less fish but still have a very competitive event clearly happened.
The future of the event is to have some flexibility around what fish species to shoot and numbers of photos presented in different areas. In the spirit of the event I would like to see only fish people would happily eat on a day to day basis being speared as a rule and that the number be kept as low as possible.
To sum it up everyone involved in the combined event was thrilled with being part of it and were eager to see this style of comp develop more in the future. Lets all fish for tomorrow.