A double Brazilian success
The eighth edition of the Panamerican Spearfishing Championship was successfully organized in Cabo Frio, Brazil, from November 2nd to 6th 2022.
The national teams involved were Brazil, Argentina, Huruguay, Peru and USA.
All the efforts of Cabo Frio Nautical Club, its members, and volunteers, Cabo Frio City Hall, and the Secretary of Tourism, Sport and Leisure and the Brazilian Confederation of Fishing and Underwater Sports (CBPDS) were rewarded by the big win of the Brazilian National Team. The entire podium of the men’s competition, and the first place in the women’s, and both titles in team results, were something that everyone in the Brazilian spearfishing community dreamed of.
The competition was held in a beautiful atmosphere where the colorful wooden boats decorated the Brazilian sea.
A special result has been the title conquered by the new Panamerican Champion, Sergio Paulo Pacheco, the 64-years old Brazilian legend. In fact, this was his first title in South America. Pacheco has nine national titles and he was on the podium 20 years ago when Brazil hosted the World Championship in Arraial do Cabo, a place 20 km away from Cabo Frio. Still, he never competed in the Panamerican Championship because of the problems with CBPDS.
“I never competed in Panamerican, this is my first time and I am very satisfied with the result. It was very hard, but I was trying to do what I can. I was helped by the fact that where I live there is always a lot of current and rough sea. So when these conditions arrived here in Cabo Frio I knew what I need to do. I have won many nationals here so I knew where you can fish with and without the current. Still, those spots need to be checked and I made a very lucky decision. In fact, my friend went to the side that I was planning to go, so when I saw him going there, I decided to change and to go to another side. That was a good decision”, said Paulo Sergio Pacheco, who was fishing between 2 and 20 meters.
“In shallow water the visibility was not very good, while deeper it was better, more clear on day two than on day one. In the middle of the competition field, shallow water got cleaner”, said the Brazilian champion. The second and third places were conquered by the younger spearos, Gabriel Barra and Gabriel Santana.
Only two teams participated in female the competition, Brazil and USA, respectively with 3 and 2 athletes. The reason for so few female competitors is that they don’t need a qualification for the World Chamionship. CMAS is in fact trying to encourage more female athletes to compete.
Among the five female spearos, only two got a valid catch in two days, Rosibel Molina from the USA had one valid fish on day 1, and the Brazilian Hanna Lamar on day 2. The Red Porgy (Pagrus Pagrus) that Lamar caught was heavier (1485 grams) compared to Molina’s Bermuda chub (Kiphosus sectatrix) 1310 grams. So Lamar got her first Panamerican title, and Molina finished second. Interesting is the fact that Hanna Lamar has been practicing spearfishing for more than 4 years. The Brazilian female athletes, not just Hanna but also Isabel Araujo and Mariana Brito, spend a lot of time in the zones for preparations and did a nice job.
“I trained very hard for this, but the result is more than a dream. I did not expect the first place and now I am very happy. Even though I have practiced spearfishing for more than 4 years, this is my first championship ever. I live in Rio de Janeiro and I trained there. Conditions are pretty similar, and have been very hard for all athletes, but we made it”, said Hanna Lamar.
For sure conditions were very hard, even during preparation. For some that are not used to big waves, it was even harder. Visibility was also changing a lot from shallow to deeper spots, so it was tricky to find the place where you can get fish. The cold front that passed just before the competition brought uncertainty in what athletes could expect on days 1 and 2 in depths, as before the competition they had two days rest without diving.
“It was very hard. Both days were tough for everyone, one-day there was rough sea with big waves and not too much current, and the second day there were fewer waves but a very strong current. So we had to swim and pedal to get to a buoy, put the fish, and stay still on the spot, finally very hard conditions”, said the most experienced spearo in the Panamerican championship even as a novice in this competition, Paulo Sergio Pacheco.
From the lake to the sea
USA athlete Mike Kennedy was also a novice, but of a different kind. For Kennedy PAC was his first time competing in the ocean as he is coming from freshwater. He had an incredible and dangerous experience when the wave hit him on the rocks and then totally rolled him. Also, Mike’s rope got stuck on the motor propeller while he was in the boat and pulled him back into the sea. At first he could not reach his knife to free himself, but finally he did it.
- “This was an incredible experience for me. I think I am the first one who has come from freshwater to saltwater. I won the National competition in the lake, so I got invited here with the national team. On my first day of preparation I was vomiting the whole day. That was my welcome to Brazil. I was thinking about what I was doing here, but then day by day my body learned and I adapted to these conditions. I was going up and down, right and left, back and forward”, said Mike Kennedy.
Team USA, led by Captain Francisco Loffredi, won an historical 2nd place. In fact, the last time they stepped up to the podium overseas was 1983, also second place. Seven years ago Team USA was third in the Panamerican championship in Acapulco 2015.
In addition to Molina’s second place in the women’s competition, Mirco Zannela got the trophy for biggest fish. This was a black margate 5220 grams heavy. Third place was conquered by Argentina.
A fish specie that was caught the most was Bermuda chub (31), and after it was the Silver Porgy (24) and Spadefish (11). All competitors together caught 106 valid fish that had in total of 130,965 kilograms. The most important thing was that the organization of Panamerican, with competition director Jairton Querino Goncalves, who was alfa and omega of the complete competition, donated all the fish caught during the championship to the poor and needy people. Goncalves was on top of all logistics and had a great team around him, so the competition has taken place in excellent spirit and atmosphere, and without problems. CMAS Technical Delegate Eric Salado from the USA had only good words for the Panamerican championship. He wished to the Brazilians that shortly they prepare their candidature for the World championship!
(Text and photos by Valentina Prokic)