The inaugural State Championship was held at that great, usually fishy, accessible location on the Central Coast, Norah Head. A rock hop event, the location was chosen as it offers a variety of depths and fishing ground and safe leeway depending upon the prevailing wind at the time.
As I arrived at the sign on location early I had time to check out the area and was pleased that the event was safe enough to hold with just a light SE wind puffing away. I begin setting up the area when the Montgomery “brothers” arrive on the scene, talk about keen! Still 90 minutes until swim off. Steve Montgomery had just come back from a USFA members trip to NW Island and had embraced the calm, warm and clear waters of the tropics spearing some great fish while Hayden Montgomery (no actual relation) is a frothing young spearo who at 15 has already captured an abundance of great species that many spearos even three times his age are in envy of. The two lads ripped in and helped me set up which was greatly appreciated.
With half an hour to swim off many more “Sea Lions”, members of the local spearo club, had rocked up Bailey Ives, Zac and Pat with a mix of the usual suspects from the Sans Souci Dolphins – Mudcrab Marsh, Paz, Cohan and the Alliman and Canada Cup champion the Handsome Mexican Cruz; good to see some Neptunes from Newcastle (the Green clan) and South Coast Barracudas Joe Hyzdal, and the current NSW champion and king of the south coast Jack Lavender. Jack had really enjoyed the previous social pair event the USFA had run where he had keenly offered to swim with a young newcomer to offer many tips and techniques.
A briefing of the regulations was given – such as the 4 metre rope the surface diver needed to be connected to, while his dive buddy (the one under) uses a standard length rig cord, swapping to the shorter cord when it was his turn to remain on the surface, that one diver in the pair must always remain on the surface. The restricted species sheet discussed, where only 1 only of some basic species, such as red morwong, were to be weighed in between a pair. The scoring today was 100points a fish and 10 points per kilogram, Simon Horvath very kindly took two juniors with him as we did have an odd number of divers sign on.
By 0800 the safety boat with pilot Joe Brennan and co-pilot Nathan Gradidge had launched Al Cooke’s beautiful Haines 600r (a big thanks for lending your tub for the day Al), and we had twenty three of the keenest spearos in NSW signed on, briefed and ready to brave very difficult diving conditions. There was an unusually strong current mixed with cool, dirty water that belied the calm surface conditions and thus for the first time in my memory in a comp every competitor was back well before finishing time.
The hard luck stories are always worth listening to, for a laugh, though I did feel sorry for young Jay Bain and his early exit from the competition due to losing a fin in swimming through some surf attempting to spear a huge Bream that was on dry land, I know, you will have to ask him yourself.
Lachy Green towed his dad Phil around all day, or was it the other way around? Depended on which Green was telling the story. The father and son team came across a nest of bugs and had 4 splendid specimens in their keeper bag. Another father and son team was Rabbit Kyle and his 10 year old son Max, Max is beyond keen and they brought in some nice fish, Max landing two great Red Rockies himself and they looked likely to take out the Grommet section until another Green member, the youngest, Malakai and his mentor buddy Simon Ross brought in the same amount of fish with just a slightly heavier total bag.
Aaron Puckeridge and his float towing partner himself a former NSW champion like Aaron, Ben Bayfield, had an indifferent day and they brought in 5 fish as well, they were both pleased to see an esky and hot meat pies at the weigh in. Josh Green the biggest and probably the ugliest of the Green siblings, and his great mate Zane Hutchison weighed a good swag with 8 fish and they looked the winners as the last group to weigh in arrived, Jack and Joe from the ‘Cudas, they presented a smaller weight though with 9 fish to edge ahead of the Newcastle juniors to be crowned the inaugural NSW One Up One Down Pairs champions.
Josh Green & Zach Hutchison
Jack Lavender & Joe Hysdal
Josh Green & Zane Hutchison
Aaron Puckeridge & Benny Bayfield
Rock Blackfish - Cohan Jones
Bream - Hayden Montgomery
This event will continue, as will its more social format where the younger and new USFA members are teamed up with experienced spearfishers who pass on valuable expertise to their allotted partner.
The overwhelming feedback form the divers repeat several key points:
“It’s definitely safer”
“I relax so much more knowing my buddy is over me, my diving just naturally improves”
“Far more enjoyable way of spearfishing a comp”
“So relaxing having someone right there with you”
“I love it when I see my partner stuff up”
It is a given that when you are relaxed and confident you are going dive better, it’s a given if your buddy is slightly at higher level than you that you will be drawn up to his level by diving with him it’s a given that diving one up one down with your surface buddy right there watching your every dive is safer, it’s also a given that it is great to share experiences with your mates who are right there to witness what you saw.
Looking forward to diving in the next one. Date out soon, keep January open.
What a great day was had! Twenty eight divers, of all ages, and locations along the coast rocked up to the Dolphin’s club house to sign on for the first USFA One Up One Down Pairs meet. No one left disappointed, the diving saw to that, yet even before a fin was dipped in the water spearos were showing obvious signs of stoke. Passing over their fifteen bucks to register for the event and being handed a trucker cap, T -shirt and Stubby cooler all embossed with great sponsor Adreno’s logo on them, spearos were incredulously asking “…What, we are given these, and we get a beer and are fed for fifteen bucks?!? Awesome!!” Hell yeah!