The 2024 Euro African Spearfishing Championship, the XXXIV° Men and III° Women competition, to be held in Ocaklar, Türkiye will start tomorrow, with the ceremonial opening on today, followed by two days of competition on Friday 31 of May and Saturday 1° of June. A week before the start, almost all the teams have settled in Ocaklar and its surroundings, spending their days at sea preparing the vcompetition zones. The Turkish Federation has excellently organized two hotels right by the sandy beach. There, they have made mooring places for boats, so that competitors can dress in their rooms and be on the boat within five minutes. Most of the teams are accommodated in these hotels, while others have chosen either a hotel or private house nearby.

2024 Euro African Spearfishing Championship in Türkiye: great position of the Hotel in front of the beach with the athletes' boats

At this year’s edition of the Euro African championship, there will be 18 men teams and 6 women teams, totaling 73 male and female competitors in the sea. The Sea of Marmara is a novelty for most, with lower salinity levels, poorer visibility, and, in most cases, shallower hunting grounds, which is unusual for many competitors. There are also currents, and the situation will be further complicated by weather changes. However, every day spent in the zone brings new benefits.
As for the hosts, all Turkish hopes for the podium are placed on Hakan Gencer, who returns to the national team after 14 years.This competition will also be his farewell, along with another experienced athlete Serhan Dagdan and young talent Fahrihan Uysal, who proved themselves the best in the selection competition just over a month ago and have been training for over 20 days.


Men’s Championship

Regarding other favorites for the 2024 Euro African Spearfishing championship, the public’s eyes are on the teams of Spain and Italy. The Spanish “Mago” for shallow fishing and the current World Champion from Laredo 2023, Santiago Lopez Cid (Cressi), is not a man of many words, but what he says carries weight.

“It’s much harder than we actually thought. Very difficult, we’ll be fishing for three hours, and we’ll spend two hours looking at the sky”, commented Santiago Lopez Cid.

His national team colleague, still the reigning Euro-African champion from Tunisia 2022, and silver medalist at the World Championship in Sardinia 2021, Oscar Cervantes Riera (C4 Carbon), agrees with him.

“It will be very difficult because it will all come down to the weight of the fish and who will catch the heaviest fish, considering there aren’t many fish species to see. Complicated and difficult. We were at deep waters, at 40 meters or more, the visibility is good when passing through the first dark layer, but there’s nothing down there. You find a rock, you expect to see some fish, but everything is small, or simply there is nothing, or we didn’t find any”, says Cervantes.

The third Spanish spearo is Samuel Tomas Ramon (Spetton), another experienced “fox”.

The equally dangerous “Azzurri” are led by the world champion from Sardinia 2021, silver medalist at the EAC Tunis 2022, and bronze medalist in Laredo at last year’s World Championship, Giacomo De Mola. De Mola arrived in Turkey at the beginning of May.

2024 Euro African Championship

“The weight of the fish will play the biggest role. Everyone will have five wrasses and three brown meagre, and any other species above, will be an extra addition. Except for the Turks, who surely know more than the rest of us, we have mostly found the same species. If anyone finds a scorpionfish, a corvina, a conger or something else, that will be the additional fish. It will be a very tough competition, completely different from the previous ones“, says Giacomo De Mola.

Luigi Puretti, Vice World Champion in Laredo and sixth in Tunisia, also Apneapassion product tester, aims for a new podium. Still, a few people mention him among the favorites. The modest Rocco Cuccaro is no less dangerous.

2024 Euro African Championship

After returning to CMAS competitions last year, French spearfishermen want to make up for everything they unfortunately missed in the world of spearfishing. Guillaume Eugene, the Masters champion, Quentin Roustan, the national French Champion, and Mathieu Gonzalez will try to “change the game” and pull out a joker. They are certainly capable of it, especially Eugene.

“After four days of inspection, I can say that there aren’t many places with fish, especially in zone B, and there will be a big crowd at the competition precisely in those places. I haven’t found a “joker spot,” a place where I can be alone and fish. I searched deep, but it’s quite dark at some places, better on other, but cold, and there’s no fish. The fish will be in shallow waters, so I’ll stick to that like everyone else”, said Guillaume Eugene.

The Croatian national team, entering the second week of preparations, also has two experienced players, Antonio Buratovic and Slaven Cubric, with the trio being closed by the humble expert Sandi Perusko.

Equally strong in Ocaklar are the Greeks, the older and more experienced Nikos Kambanis and Sotiris Mavrommatis, the young and spirited Mixalis Simitsakis.

Also strong is the “fresh” force of Cyprus in his first individual appearance at a CMAS competition, Iosif Hadjihanna.

Although the Portuguese team arrived only a week before, they have experienced players Joao, Peixeiro, Humberto Silva, and Ricardo Alves, and with shorter preparations, they will quickly grasp the game.

Then we come to Bulgaria, led by the experienced Valentin Lyutskanov, and their advantage lies in having equal conditions at home, in the Black Sea.

The conditions are not unfamiliar to Ukrainians or British either.

The teams from North Africa arrived over the weekend, as did the teams from Northern Europe, and for the first time in history, the team from Montenegro will compete in a CMAS competition.

Ukrainian Andrii Lagutin is the oldest competitor, arriving two weeks ago from the battlefield, where he performs his duty as a sniper. Lagutin also decided to retire from the competition after Türkiye, as this marks his 30th year of competing. He started in 1994.

I don’t like the situation in the Ukrainian federation. I prepared for the World Championship in Sardinia for two years, canceled my contract in the army to be able to go, and in the end, someone did everything possible to kick me out of the team. The boat was ready, equipment, car, everything, only one bag was missing that I was about to put in the car before departure, and they called me to tell me I couldn’t go because my rating was low. It was lower than others whom I taught fishing because others competed in freshwaters, and I was at war. There is no honor, honesty, or responsibility in the Ukrainian federation, and that’s why I decided to retire”, explained the legendary Lagutin.

Women’s Championship

The leading name in the women’s part of the 2024 Euro African Spearfishing championship is the two-time world champion from Spain, Malen Sart.

Malen Sart at the 2024 Euro African Championship

“It is complicated because there are wrasses everywhere, and we can only catch five, what will we do after that? In the first zone, there are enough for all of us because the zone is large, but in zone B, which is smaller, I think not everyone will catch five pieces. Also, not all are of sufficient weight. There are competitors who found brown meagre or corvina, but there’s not much more than that, so it will be very complicated” said Malen Sart.

Except for the domestic competitors, that have experience in this conditions, as Elcin Guner, Rukiye Aydin, Ebru Karabulut and Berivan Simsek, and the Spaniards Rocio Benitez Armas, Sandra Osorio and Vega Garcia Brana, five more nations will fight for the title of the best in the Euro-African.

We are aiming to achieve good results, because we have been preparing for this for two weeks. We have found fish, and for now, we are satisfied,” said Elcin Guner.

The three Croatian women are, Kristina Siprak, Gabrijela Milicevic and Ivana Bralic.

“We were diving six to eight hours every day during this past days of the scouting. We saw, like everyone, wrasses, and occasionally a few salemas, nothing more than that. The question is, what will happen when we’re all in the zone and the competition starts?”, said Gabrijela Milicevic.

Then Marina Helluin and Amandine Gomez, two athletes from France, aim to achieve their best performances to complement the success of their male colleagues.

Svetlana Mayorova and Anzhela Holovianko from Ukraine face conditions similar to those of freshwater environments. Unfortunately, they will not compete due to health problems.

Italian and Norwegian athletes arrived last in their zones. Even though others have a few more days of preparation, in such conditions, this will not be an advantage.