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soul surfers

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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soul surfers?

  • This theory seems to hold water

    Votes: 15 83.3%
  • Rig is outta his mind...

    Votes: 3 16.7%

  • Total voters


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May 28, 2002
I have developed a theory that freedive hunting is similar to surfing in that there are 2 distinct factions. In surfing it is the aggresive surfers and the soul surfers.

The aggresive surfer is in the sport to shred the waves. He is the guy that pulls the biggest, sickest airs and is out to win it all. He wants the sponsorships and his photos on the covers. He is a very skilled surfer but often fades away with time. Its all about the rush.

Then there are the soul surfers. These are the guys that would live in a hut with no ac and eat bugs if thats what it took for them to surf. Surfing is the motivation for living. These guys often compete but it is not the competition that drives them, its the ocean. The wave completes them.

In freedive spearing I believe we have our aggressive hunters and our soul hunters.

The aggressive hunters go through life seeking that next challenge or the acclaim that can come in such a small community while the soul hunters do it because it is who they are. They view the ocean as a living creature that presents them with gifts and envelopes them in her liquid embrace.

Anybody have any thoughts about this?
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I agree. I know of some awesome spearfishermen who could either place very highly or even win most competitions if they entered. They choose to instead dive away from the crowds with a select few partners hunting only the species they wish to hunt. Similarly there are surfers out there who absolutely rip but don't enter contest. Why, because it's not about competing against others, it's a personal issue. They don't do it for others, they do it for themselves. There is nothing wrong with competition, there are just some who choose not to compete. There was a slogan a while ago "Only a Surfer Knows the Feeling." Well when it comes to being underwater "Only a Freediver Knows the Feeling."

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To spear or not to spear

For me spearfishing is all about the challenge. I sincerely believe it's the most dangerous, challenging, and self-rewarding sport on the planet. There's something about spearing a fish at an unearthly depth all on one breath. It's the sense of fullfillment the sport brings to me, where else must you combine stamina, hand-eye coordination, intuition, knowledge of surrondings/species, lung capacity, strength, vision, fearlessness, etc... and come up with a prized trophy. To be able to conquer a species in their own habitat and live to tell the story...Unbelievable!

I'm not into formal competitions, although I'll never rule it out. That being said, for me it's the rush, the excitement of the hunt, the challenge, the adrenaline that flows through me before I pull the trigger....God I love this sport!

Where does that categorize me?
soul surfers and sould spearers do compete. I am not saying that people who do compete are lesser than those who choose not to. I compete in every event that I can...the alabama open, helldivers rodeo and many other local events. The comparison is the "driving force" in the hunter...

You're absolutely right. It's not just the surfers or spearfishers. That's people's attitude towards the whole life...

I know a great freediver, one of my closest dive buddies besides the age difference (he's 60) who never competed but still can brings more than I was ever able to catch. He's not against competitions, he says he's too nervous to compete, but was always eager to hear how I performed on any event. I can also affirm that most of the competitors in my country (and I think I was one of those) are considering the competitions as a chance to meet with friends, to measure their own performance and to learn from the best. Whether it should be a competition or a "get-together" as there is one big trend in Europe nowadays, wouldn't have been of any big difference for me.
However, I do also know the other kind - the spearo that is there only for the questionable 'glory' of the whole thing. Truely great spearos in terms of skills whos' tallent is actually wasted cause they can't share it with anyone. Believe me, this kind is not really tollerated among the general number of the competitors. They are usually politely ignored.
And they usually miss the best of the whole thing - the party after the event! :)

Yeah wishbone that sound like how its here too.

This is a small island and few good speros to compete but this is not mean newbies like me can not compete. In my first and only comp. i was surprised coz i already know the competitors so comp. here is like seeing friends. When someone get out of water he/she start to wait in the coast to see what other comp. will bring and help them to carry the gear or so... After comp. everyone starts to talk about the catches. How did you shoot it? How did you find this? What depth you get it? etc... After my competiton, we went to the restaurant and give them the fishes to fry for us...

All i can say is competitions are very nice here...


You are right about that, everyone has personal reasons and feelings about that sport..
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According to the CMAS regs, the catch from competitions should be donated for charity and not swallowed in restaurants by the spearos. :)
This is something I am two thumbs up for - even though the total catch here is not so big (50-100 kilos), the orphanages and hospitals are usually struggling!

Rig - have you accepted this practice in the States already?

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most area tournaments are hosted by dive clubs. Often after the weigh in there is a fish fry, competitors eat for free and it is open to the public for a nominal fee as a fundraising method for the club. Other tourney the spearo retains his catch.

I would like the donation thing but with the legal climate in the U.S, these days you could be sued if someone got sick or whatever.
Originally posted by Wishbone
According to the CMAS regs, the catch from competitions should be donated for charity and not swallowed in restaurants by the spearos. :)



In here comp. arrangements are very amateur. I don't think they are matching with CMAS rules:hmm But anyway we only eat small amount of the fishes. I don't know, if you want to keep your fish for family or sell it, no problem you can do it. The fish you hit is yours you can do whatever you want with it. The competitons are little different here:D But i liked the idea of donation !!!!
Paul Kotics recent article seems to allude to the same idea...great story if you havent yet read it.
Hey Rig,

If the article is about the freediving without the rope it was a great story and even though I'm still young (29), I was blessed to have almost the same childhood. The fact that we were behind the "iron curtain" had this very positive side - lack of developed tourism. Our wrecks though were hard to spot - too ancient - you just find pieces of pottery. :)

About the comps... There are two very distinctive trends nowadyas....
First comes the rapid development of the international regs by CMAS. The spearfishing committee, even though hated by many like every 'Governing body' and facing quite a heavy internal opposition, is trying to do whatever it can to keep the sport alive. The numerous amendments to the regulations are trying to reorganize the events so most of the bad practices can be removed. I have mentioned some of those in here (like the use of diveboards and finning instead of boats, the ban on certain species and bag and size limits, the judges and the penalties for the competitors, the donation of the catch, etc. ). So this is the first trend - reorganizing the competitions. In November the Italian FIPSAS will be organizing the first Italian Open for Clubs under the newrules so they can be tested. (Check the Italian Apnea Magazine for more info).
The other major trend is what I'd peronally call 'back to the roots'. In most of the European countries where the organized spearfishing has been going on for ages people have been unhappy with what their local Federations are doing to protect the spearfishing. This is in most of the cases because the Scuba and Freediving lobbys are bashing on the ever controversial spearfishing to promote their own sport. Check out the recent events - the French FFESSM has been abandoned by most if its spearfishing members who formed a new federation - FNPSA. The 2003 French nationals have been bycotted by the competitors but the first event of the FNPSA 'Criterium' gathered 51 teams (102 spearos). In italy there is a paralel spearfishing Federation for years lready, which promotes the friendly competitions - much more like happenings and parties than like regular competitions.
So the future of the organized spearfishing is quite unclear yet, I think. My personal opinion though is that the spearfishing should remain organized.
This has nothing to do with the competitions, or the way they are organized. If we want this activity to last, it needs protection. The only way is to have a developed system of spearfishing clubs under some kind of a governing body to represent their interests. It's just the way things work.
About the competitions I haven't heard anyone mentioning the very simple fact which has nothing to do with the equipment industry and other really ridiculous statements in defence of the competitive spearfishing I've read here: the competitions are the face of the spearfishing, which is visible to the public. I don't know how this is done in the US but in most of the European countries these competitions and the Federations are part of the National sports authorities and fall under their jurisdiction. This turns them into a nationally supported events, and it is much harder to attack such events. So the competitions do have their very positive role if properly organized and regulated by proper and tough rules. But to have that you must have active and organized community and it involves a lot of hard work.
I personally cannot and never did tolerate such negative attitude like "I don't like it, I won't participate, and I'm out 'til you clean up you s*it"! If you don't like something - change it! Such 'THEM' behaviour is nothing but destructive. It is US - cometitors or not - who are responsible for developing the spearfishing.

Don't know how from a regular informative post it turned into a call for duty but anyway.. That's what I think.. :)

Save hunting guys!

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And then there are the hunters, that hunt to eat:p, they seem to care just as much about the hunting as making the fish into a delicious dish.. they enjoy the whole process of hunting into the last detail..
But in general I think rigdvr, you are right:hmm, there are the ones that make lots of noice and then there are the ones who don't..

safe diving/hunting

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When I started freediving I did a lot of local tournaments for about the first 2-3 years. I consider that time a good learning experience and I believe it helped make me a better spearfisherman. But after maturing in the sport a little bit (and I’m in no way saying that competing in tournaments is immature), I'd now rather just go out for fun and shoot fish with a select group of friends. I still however do one competition a year (the Nationals) but that's mostly just for the camaraderie of it all. Although, I wouldn’t mind someday making the USA World Team again because it’s a great experience and to do that I have to compete in the Nationals.

BTW, at the National level most hosting councils/clubs donate the fish taken during the tournament to charity.

Scott T.
hello all, i have not been active until recently and am really enjoying your posts.
as far as my thoughts on the thread, i see the two perspectives as a time line. at the beginning you have the competitive, kill all spearo while at the other end of the time line, you have the soul spearo. How long is this timeline? It's different for everyone, it could be a couple years or it could be a lifetime.
while some experience the full timeline others may jump to the end or stay stuck in the beginnig. and their are those that seem to hang in the middle. neither ends of the line are better than the other, as mentioned earlier, it's just a matter of what feels right to that spearo. the two will always co-exist with each other and are what make this sport as wonderful as it is.
Personally, i have always been a competitive person, i have been involved in sports up to the college level and will always be that kind of person. But when it comes to the ocean and spearing, i am a different person. i could not tell you how deep i can freedive or how much my biggest fish weighed

the ocean for me, has always been my "soul food", it gives me a feeling that only other freedivers/ocean people can understand. many times i have tried to explain the feeing of what it is like to feel "one with the ocean" but few times have i tried to explain the "the thrill of the kill" rush we get when we spear a fish. don't get me wrong spearing will always give me that rush and always be a part of my life,but that " kill rush" is not why i spear. . i freedive/spear because it brings me to my roots as a
human being. it's the only way i can go back in time to when i was a child and relive those feelings of not worrying about bills, pollution, death, politics, corruption and all the other crapy things we deal with on a day to day basis. it's just me and the ocean,and everything mother nature has to offer. sorry to go off on a tangent here so i will end this BOOK here.

I almost forgot, in the USA competitive spearfishing is regulated by the Underwater Society of America (USOA). USOA pretty much regulates all underwater sports in this Country including underwater hockey, underwater rugby, finswimming, spearfishing, photography, etc. They hold a seat on the Olympic Committee (as finswimming is an Olympic sport) and they also hold a seat on CMAS. Please keep in mind that most of what you hear on this Forum is from spearfishermen who do not compete on the National level and so the opinions you are reading are not coming from the regulated community. I should know, I’m the USOA Southeast Regional Vice-President.

Got Lungs?,

Not a book, just a nice post. I'm a Wildlife Biologist by education and while going through school when we are learning about hunting they taught us that there are 5 levels every hunter eventually travels through. I can't remember them exactly but it's basically what you said. You start off killing everything you see, then you become more selective (i.e. trophy hunting), until you eventually end up in a stage where you don't kill at all anymore. But off course some people get stuck along the way and never finish the progression while others start right off the bat at the far end of the spectrum and may never kill (just take pics or enjoy interaction experience) or kill very selectively.

Scott T.
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Got Lungs?

Good Post Forest! You make quality points. Nice to see you contribute and hope you'll continue in the future. I think you'll find this web-site more up our alley. Take Care and Dive Safe...Amigo!:cool:
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Your progression is right on target for me. Used to be very competitive, had to have the most and biggest; today I just shoot dinner and do a whole lot of sight seeing (boy does it show in my lack of accuracy). It is a huge thrill to set up on a big grouper or mutton with no other object than to see if I can get into position for a good shot. Just hope I never get to the "don't shot at all" stage.

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Hey Scott,

Thanks for the info about the US. The Bulgarian Underwater Sports Federation is the governing body here. It has been a member of CMAS since the 60's and we currently hold one of the seats in the exec bureau of the CMAS spearfishing committee.
I am aware of the fact that most of the members here do not compete on national level and most of them do not compete at all. That doesn't make their opinions less interresting for me! :)
As a matter of fact I think such places are extremely useful and let us see opinions on different (often controversial) subjects, since this is in fact the general public.
It's a general discussion, but I am glad to know who I can address my official questions to if I have any! ;)

By the way, did you meet any of our guys in Brazil? I personally told them to say hi, but since they are all "linguistically challenged" I am not sure they ever did that.


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I in no way meant to imply that opinions of divers on DB from outside the organized freediving community are somehow less important than those from within the community. I only wanted to let you know that the perceived dissatisfaction in US competitive spearfishing that has arisen on DB is not coming from the athletes themselves. Actually, competitive freedive spearfishing in the USA is alive and well. In fact, last year’s turnout of 97 divers in Rhode Island was the largest in the 50+ year history of the sport and next year's tournament in Hawaii should be even crazier!

I just looked through my pictures from Brazil and don’t see any of the Bulgarian team. That’s a shame, I would have loved to meet them. But like you said, with teams from 20 different countries speaking almost as many different languages, communication between the teams over there was difficult.


I know what you mean about traveling too fast through the stages. I seem to be passing up quite a few shots lately on fish. I also hope that I’m not coming to that ‘no kill’ stage a little too prematurely.

Take care everybody and happy hunting!

Scott T.
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He Scott,

Congratulations on the increased number of participants in your country. We have the same thing, happening here. We even had to impose a 50 years age limit to allow the younger competitors to qualify easier for the nationals.
I couldn't believe the amount of young 15-16 year olds waiting for the return of the comptitors this year. They compared their gear, asked questions and stuff. They are not allowed to compete, but after 2 years they'll be challenging their 'heros'. And it made me think about the even higher responsibility of the organizations and the individual competitors before them.
Maybe I'm not informed well enough, but I don't think I have ever heard any of the big names in the competitive spearfishing (internationally or locally here) take a stand and clearly oppose to any of the bad practices in the sport or to promote the sustainable spearfishing. Yes I have heard of them cought in internal fights whithin their federations, and more often I see their names on pieces of gear. But I never saw Pedro Carbonell or anyone of them on a "Stop the overfishing" poster...

That's bugging me...

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