Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jaco Blignaut Would Have Come 2nd At Spearfishing World Champs!!

Here is some more news from Tony Heugh who was at the World Spearfishing Championships in Venezuela:

"Jaco was unfairly disqualified on the first day, after the Chilean divers lodged a protest against him for using a body stringer.

Jaco did not use a body stringer. All he did was to swim his fish to the boat and hand it to the commissioner. Technically we all did this - how else does one get the fish to the boat?

The Chilean divers were irritated with Jaco because he found fish in the same cave they had also scouted. Jaco had a plan to get these fish by surfacing into an air pocket at the back of the cave and stringing his fish on a stringer attached to a drop weight at the bottom of the cave. This way he did not have to swim out of the cave each time he speared a fish.

The Chilians never thought of Jaco's method and were very envious when they saw him swim out of the cave with a stringer of weighers. Other top divers including Maurizio backed Jaco but the judicial committee interpereted the rules the way of the Chileans and their protest was upheld.

I tried several times to intervene on Jaco's behalf. Jaco consistantly stuck to his version of the events and most of the divers, including myself, believed his version.
The food, accomodation and facilities were great and the boats we used were adequate with only a couple of breakdowns.

The standard of organisation for the competition was not up to scratch. Each day hours were spent hanging around the start wasting time while the organisers went about seemingly without direction. I have never before been to a competition where I had to get upat 5.30am for an 11h45 start.

On the 2nd day the armader of boats congregated at the same starting point of the first day and waited for the official boat to turn up. When it eventually arrived the chief organiser adresssed everyone in Spanish and the boats sped away to a new starting point. About half of the divers and commissioners with them, thought the competition had started and sped off to begin diving.

After about 1/2 and hour these people were recalled and penalised 1 hour for false starting.
Gyula was one of them. The organiser told him to get off his boat and onto the official boat and then gave his boat to one of the Croatian divers. Apparently one of the outboards on the Croatian's boat was playing up. The Croatian then left for the competition area with Gyuyla's gear after the new start. Although Gyula was only penalised 1 hour he did not get his gear back for the next 2 hours.

Not surprisingly Gyula and one of the Kiwi divers decided to make a statement and headed back to the hotel instead of diving the second day.

There were very few weigher fish around for both days of the competition. The areas were relatively small. Most of the fish were on the outside (seaward side) of the islands, with little but sand between and wide of the islands. Teams who had spent a lot of time scouting with sounders found scaterred patches out deep but these were heavily fished during the competition and the fish did not hang around.

The top divers weighed between 5 and 8 fish per day and Jaco would have been 2nd overall with two hauls of 8 fish (white margo - rubber lips).

There was a lot of noise from the 65 boats working the small areas each day and we wee lucky there were no injuries due to boating incidents. All the boats had a high prow - dificult to see past, with a view only down one side for the tiller operating boat handlers.

In hindsight it would have been best to reduce the number of boats in the area by using 1 boat for each team of 3 divers instead of 3.

The next Titles will be in Croatia - after the last performance by the organisers in Croata where the venue was changed at the 11th hour, I don't see either New Zealand or Auastralia participating.

If you guys hold the comp off Durban in 2012 we will be there.

Rgds,
Tony."
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