By James Borja
We just returned from this year’s Interpacific Spearfishing Championship, hosted by Australia from June 8-15th,2013.
This year Australia decided to host the event on the Capricorn and Bunker Group Reefs located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The six countries competing are Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Hawaii and Guam. All teams arrived in Gladstone, Queensland Australia and boarded two live-aboard boats which traveled 50 miles east of Gladstone to the competition zone. Over the six-days out at sea, we all had the opportunity to spearfish for fun, scout the competition zones and compete for two days.
The Spearfishing Championship has been around since 1986. The founding core member countries are Tahiti, Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. In 2012, Hawaii was voted in as a core member and Guam has competed as a “Social Competitor” for 2008, 2012 and 2013. Each year the event rotates between core members and in order for Guam to be voted in as a core member, we would have to complete one full round of competing at each of the countries and then host an event in Guam. If all goes as planned, we will have an opportunity to host in 2016.
The competition is very challenging as there are size limits, catch limits and only certain species are allowed for the competition.
The team consists of up to 5 competitors and a manager. During the competition each country has four divers in the water who must dive in pairs. The fifth diver is an alternate who can be allowed to dive the following day.
Team Guam: James Borja, Raymond Flores, Stephen Meno, Michael Cassidy ,Carl Dela Cruz, Kenneth Borja – Manager
Collectively, the entire team is well experienced in competitive spearfishing…I’m the veteran in the group having been competing for the past 18 years in the South Pacific Games, Micronesian Games, Interpacific Spearfishing Championship, US National Spearfishing Championship and local competitions in Guam and Saipan. The rest of the group has been competing for the past several years in Guam, Saipan and last years’ Interpacific event in Kauai. As a team we’ve competed together in the 2012 and 2013 Interpacific Spearfishing Championship. For the past several years we’ve all placed within in the top three teams as pairs for spearfishing competitions in Guam and Saipan. Ray, Mike and Carl won Saipan’s annual spearfishing competition in 2011 and Ray and Mike defended the title in 2012. Most recently Ray and Mike won the Umatac Discovery Day spearfishing competition and Carl and his partner Jason Miller, took first place in the largest fish category.
Regionally, we only have the Micronesian Games and Interpacific Spearfishing Championship. Spearfishing was dropped from the Pacific Games Charter in 2003.
Since the GBR is tropical, we were all familiar with the species of fish that we would be hunting for. The biggest challenge would be finding areas that hold the target species and expecting to meet up with other competitors hunting for the same species. There is always a race from the start to see who can reach the area first and from there it’s up to the teams to spear target species over the six-hour competition.
Competitors are only allowed to swim during these events and can not use a boat to be transported to different areas within the competition zone. All competitors must also swim back to the starting point by the end of the six-hour competition. Generally, the competition zone is a 3 mile stretch of reef.
NOTES: Flores represented Guam in the South Pacific Games as a swimmer; Cassidy was a defensive end football standout at Father Duenas and is one of a few who has his jersey retired as a Friar.
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