Tuesday, 25 June 2019


Whitianga well represented at World Spearfishing Championships

Early last month, the Spearfishing World Championship was held in Sagres, Portugal. 

New Zealand was represented by a team of three divers - Dwane Herbert, Rowan Virbickas and Jackson Sheilds - as well as reserve Geoff Crawford and manager Ian Warnock. Dwane, Rowan and Ian are all from Whitianga. Jackson is from Auckland and Geoff is from Northland.

The world championship is held every two years. Twenty-five countries were this year invited to participate after qualifying against other countries in their respective regions. Every participating country fielded three divers and were allowed one reserve diver.

Divers were given a list of species to target. Each species had its own minimum size and number of fish to be captured. Points were awarded according to the number of fish speared, the different species speared and total weight. All the fish that were speared had to be weighed. “If you were unfortunate enough to spear a fish that was too small, your team was penalised,” says Rowan. “Each diver had his own boat and each boat had an official observer on board, so there was zero room for error.

“The competition was an incredible sight - 75 competitor boats, plus boats for officials, the press and the police. The Portuguese navy was there too.

“Dwane and I flew to Portugal a month early to get familiar with the fish and the terrain. It was an important part of our preparations. Overall the competition was an awesome experience and we all learned a lot. The fish were very different to what we have here. They’ve been hunted by humans for hundreds of years, so they've become pretty smart.”

The New Zealand team finished the championship in eighth place, beating teams from countries with significantly more experience of the terrain, fish species and conditions encountered during the competition.

The New Zealand team was sponsored and supported by the following Mercury Bay businesses and organisations - Dive Zone Whitianga, The Lost Spring, That Curry Place, Whitianga Sports Centre, Z Whitianga, the Mercury Bay Spearfishing Club, Spearo Camp and Glass Bottom Boat.



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