The Spanish athletes Magadalena (Malen) Sart Bonnin (Spetton) and Santiago Lopez Cid (Cressi) are the World Spearfishing Champions 2023. Spain is also World Spearfishing Champion for Teams in the Men and Women standings, winning all the titles available! They have won in Laredo, Cantabria, Spain the XXXIII° World Spearfishing Championship 2023 by CMAS, organized by FCDAS and FEDAS.
Malen maintains the title after an amazing success two years ago in Italy, Arbatax, while Santiago (Santi) Lopez Cid conquers his first World Title. All this indeed with the help of the home waters, but with the pressure and the competition of both their teammates and many strong athletes, in particular the Italians among men and the women from New Zealand and Tahiti. And in fact the podium of the men sees also an amazing result by the Italians Luigi Puretti (Lowrance – Sealwolf – Seagang) and Giacomo the Mola (Pathos), who has to let the title go, but does it demonstrating once more to be an extraordinary Champion.
It is though probably the podium of the women to be even more extraordinary, with the level of such competition increased greatly compared to WC in 2021. Malen Sart has to compete with many extraordinary champions, like the outstanding Alex Edwards, from New Zealand, Onyx Le Bihan, from Tahiti, a Team that has really obtained a huge result both in the women’s, second, and men’s, third, standings.
Group 1 species included almost all the fish, such as all kinds of seabreams and seabasses, wrasses, John Dory, red mullets (huge in the ocean compared to the Mediterranean), dentex and croakers. The minimum weight set was of 700 grams (500 for women), a very high value considering 500 grams for other international competitions.
The group 2 included salpas, mullets and grey triggerfish, with the minimum weight up to 900 grams (700 for women). Such values have created some difficulty among the competitors not used to minimum weights so high. Some athletes even fished out of the competition fields during preparation to catch and measure/weigh some of the fish and understand what could have been the right size underwater to be in the right weight.
Group 3 were only congers, with minimum weight of 7 kilos, and 1000 points per valid catch, plus the cup reachable with 2 fish, and of course the species.
The quota (cup) bonus was of 1400 points, while the species counted 700 points. Group 1 had a quota of 7 pieces and group 2 of 5.
The groupers in this side of the ocean are almost absent and so where part of group 1, but honestly we would have actually avoided to accept them in the list of valid species.
After long and tough days of preparation, where the weather and sea changed many times with ten days of terrible conditions both for the big oceanic waves and the terrible visibility underwater, the days of the competition changed suddenly to total absence of wind, calm sea, and water returning to a good transparency. In the comments of the Spanish the day before the competition was some worry, as they are used to spearfishing in the toughest conditions, with the big oceanic waves hitting the coast.
The technique in this case is very specific, with the need to calculate the timing of the waves, which hit the coast in groups between which there are moments of apparent calm. Only in such moments can the spearo get close to the coast and catch the fish that are themselves hunting and eating. Mistaking the timing does not only determine to be totally overwhelmed by the waves, and uncapable to fish, but can actually be extremely dangerous, with the great oceanic masses of water throwing the spearo against the rocky cost.
With the water becoming still and clear, somehow the conditions were more similar to the Mediterranean ones, even though the knowledge by the Spanish of the area was a great advantage. Still, it apparently was not clear to anyone if with such conditions a try should have been given to deep depth by the deep divers, or anyway all the fish, fewer with calm sea, would have been on the coast and in the shallow. Comments by the Spanish indicated to go deeper, but was it just a strategy?
Saturday – Day 1
Finally, in the very calm and hot first day most boats where on the coast, from zero to 12-14 meters, and only some were around 20 meters or more. So, the athletes, even the strongest deep divers such as Giacomo De Mola, had to use the strategy of many dives instead of deep long ones, except for some catches of big croakers. Even the congers, with the thermocline that had gone up to 8 meters during the very last days of preparation, could have in fact moved to shallower water.
At the dock for the fish delivery the quantity of fish is good, even if not excellent, due to a calm ocean which could not give its best. Big congers are often part of the catch, and make a big difference in the final results. In the men’s standings it is the Spanish Angel Cruz Gutierrez (Cressi) to win the day with 13 valid fish, for total 27,110 grams and 29,150 points. Second is the incredible athlete from Tahiti, Mauiarii Taea (Salvimar), with 12 valid fish for 15,860 grams, 27.760 points and 95.23%. Third is a fantastic Aurelien Bouzon, back finally with the French team to international competitions. The Denty sponsored athlete catches 11 valid fish for 18,700 grams, for 24,490 points and 84.01%.
Fourth is another Spanish, Santiago Lopez Cid (Cressi), apparently below his standards on the first day, considering the two “foreigners” in front of him, but anyway achieving a very good day of catches, with 9 valid fish, for 26,180 grams, 24,080 points and 82.61%. Fifth is an astonishing Luigi Puretti (Lowrance – Seawolf – Seagang), with 10 valid fish, 12,190 grams, 22.690 points and 77.84%. Luigi just misses to find the congers he had discovered during preparation. Behind him is the 2021 World Champion Giacomo De Mola (Pathos), with 9 valid fish, for 22,350 grams, 18,150 points and 62.26%.
Nico Strambelli (Omer) in seventh position, has also a very good performance after very few days of preparation due to illness, and closes the row of the three Italian athletes, with 7 valid fish, for 15,500 grams, 16,900 points and 57.98%. Just behind, in eighth position is Chris Marshall of New Zealand, with 7 valid fish, for 15,510 grams, 16,800 points and 57.67%. Nineth is the second French, Guillaume Eugene (Pathos), with 8 valid fish for 8,770 grams, 16.470 points and 56.50%. Closes the first ten positions the Turk Fuhrihan Uysal (Labrax), with 7 valid catches for 21,280 grams, 16.380 points and 56.19%.
At the dock it is already evident there is a new amazing athlete on the world panorama, the athlete from New Zealand, Alex Edwards (Wettie). The cute face, tall, and very young girl underwater is a hunting machine. She brings to the weighing 12 valid fish, for 11,010 grams and 19,510 points, winning day 1. And another women, Onyx Le Bihan (Imersion) from Tahiti, enters the hall of the best, with a second position of the day thanks to 10 valid fish for 7,430 grams, 14,430 point, equal to 73.96%. Third is the favourite of this World Championship and winner of the first women title in Arbatax two years ago, Magdalena Sart Bonnin (Spetton).
Malen catches 8 valid catches, including two congers, for 29,030 grams, 13,900 points and and 71.25%. “It has been a good day, but not enough, as Alex and Onyx have been huge today”, says the Spanish champion to the microphones of Apneapassion after the weighing. She smiles as always, but some worry is on her face. Such amazing competitors from so far away were quite unexpected.
Fourth in the standings of day 1 is another amazing Tahitian women, Taina Orth. She brings to the weighing 7 valid catches for 13,560 grams, 10,520 points and 71.25%. Fifth is Rosibel Molina Perurera from the United States, with 6 valid fish, for 5,350 grams, 9,350 points and 53.92%. Sixth is Emanuela De Lullo (C4 Carbon), the only Italian women athlete present, with 6 valid fish for 3,620 grams, 7,620 points and 39.06%.
Sunday – Day 2
The second and last day of the competition is still with no wind, even fewer waves than the previous day and clear water. The competition field has less sandy areas and so more valid spots to work on, even though apparently it is the center of the field to be the most valid one. If on day 1 the athletes at the end of the competition had really no new spot to try, here the situation is different.
The choice is to be in the middle of the battle in a good area, but with tens of athletes, or in less valid spots but with more calm. The shallow water fishing also determines that when many athletes are, or have been, on the spot, the fish are so nervous it is almost impossible to catch them. So it is a matter not only of technical and physical capacities, but most of all of deciding in real time the right strategy and spots in a competition field with more than 100 athletes.
On day 2 of competition the question marks on the final results are many among the men. The cold cut going back down from 8 to 20 meters and the absolute absence of waves, even less than the previous day, create big difficulties for many strong athletes. The fish in the shallow is much less than the day before, so the strategy is even more important. The ability and vision to spearfish at small, medium and big depths is key. Also, the choice to avoid being in the middle of the crowd, eventually accepting to spearfish in less valid zones, is the winning choice.
During the day of competition we never, as Apneapassion, meet the Spanish during the live streaming. But the voices say that they are not doing as well as expected, apart from Santiago Lopez Cid. We meet instead Luigi Puretti, who catches a nice conger in front of us, and has around 5 other fish.
At the dock it is clear that our first informations are true. The Spanish have not had a great day, except for Santiago who instead has been outstanding. The winner of day 1, Angel Cruz Gutierrez, does no find the right key of the day and is only 29th. Jacobo Garcia Fernandez (Cressi), does better, but is “only” 12th, just like in day 1. Also the Tahitian Mauiarii Taea (only 33rd of the day) and the French Aurelien Bouzon (36 of the day) do not manage to repeat the excellent result of day 1.
Finally, Santiago Lopez Cid wins the day with an astonishing catch of 14 valid fish, for 26.620 grams and 29.420 points. Second is the other Tahitian, showing the amazing strength of this team, maybe just missing some experience in competitions, Dell Lamartiniere (Picasso). The spearo from the French Polynesia catches 12 valid fish for 26,520 grams, 26,520 points and 90.14%. Third is the Turkish HÜsedyn Tasdibi (Labrax), who had not competed on day 1, with 11 valid fish for 24.870 grams, 24,200 points and 82.26%.
Fourth is the now former World Champion Giacomo De Mola, with 10 valid fish, for 23,530 grams, 21,610 points and 73.43%. Fifth is the athlete from New Zealand, Dwane Herbert (Beuchat), who brings home 9 valid fish for 8,920 grams, 18,020 points and 61.25%. Behind him the Italian Luigi Puretti, with 9 valid catches, for 14,260 grams, 17,670 points and 60.06%.
Seventh is the Brazilian Eric Von Niedner (Divecom), with 7 valid fish, for 19,430 grams, 17,180 points and 58.40%. Eighth is the Greek Gerasimos Kavvadias (XT Diving – 9 valid fish, 20,980 grams, 16,980 ponts, 57.72%). Nineth is the athlete from Chile, Leonardo Andres Araya Cortes (Free Sub), with 7 valid fish for 21,520 grams, 15,920 points and 54.11%. Closes the first ten the Ukrainian Oleksandr Halaktionov (Sigma Sub), with 5 valid fish for 9,320 grams, 14,920 points and 50.71%.
The entire Ukrainian Team, men and women, were asked to come on the stage during the weighing of day 2, to receive the applauses, that lasted several minutes, of all the other teams, organizers and public, as a gesture of closeness for the war against Russia.
The second day of the women’s competition has seen a similar situation as for the men. The catches during the day, followed by Apneapassion in live streaming, were slower at the start but more constant along the entire five hours. We met Malen Sart Bonnin starting really well with a conger and a wrasse in the very first part of the competition, showing this could be her day, and it was!
Malen brings to the scale 10 valid catches, for 14,200 grams, 14,700 points and is the winner of the second day. An amazing Lidja Vukic (Dive In) from Norway is second with 8 valid fish for 6,810 grams, 12,310 points and 83.74%. On the lowest step of the podium of the day is Rosibel Molina Perurena. The athlete of Team USA brings home 7 valid catches for 5,810 grams,10,810 points, and 73.54%.
Fourth is the very strong Portuguese athlete Teresa Duarte (Salvimar), back to competitions after a stop for the birth of her little daughter. Teresa catches 7 valid fish for 11,840 grams, 10,510 points and 71.50%. Fifth is the second Spanish, Isabel Arroyo Crespo (Cressi), the 2023 Spanish Champion. She brings to the scale 8 valid fish for 4,960 grams, 9,960 points and 67.76%. Sixth is Taina Orth, from Tahiti, catching 7 valid fish for 4,100 grams, 9,100 points and 61.90%. Her teammate Onyx Le Bihan, second on the first day, will be seventh.
Santiago Lopez Cid is the new World Spearfishing Champion, with a final score of 182,61%, well ahead of a superlative Luigi Puretti, second in the ocean, with 137.90%. Santi takes the title from the former World Champion Giacomo De Mola (135.71%), who is finally third, demonstrating he is still the man to beat in every competition.
Fourth is Angel Cruz Gutierrez (129.64%), winner of day one, but unfortunately not able to keep the pace on the second day. Fifth is Mauiarii Taea (119.77%), the first of the amazing Tahitian Team (both for men and especially women). Sixth is in fact another Tahitian, Dell Lamantiniere, with 111.24%. Seventh is Leonardo Andres Araya Cortes, the Chilean reaching 104.30%. Behind him Aurelien Bouzon (104.23%), the first of the newly back French Team. Nineth is Eric Von Niedner, the first of the Brazilians, reaching 104.06%. Gerasimos Kavvadias closes the standings of the first ten with 103.11%. It is evident how from the seventh to the tenth position the competition is amazingly close, with the % score inside 1.19%.
Magdalena Sart Bonnin holds on to the World Spearfishing Title and wins it for the second time in a row. As there have been only two world titles in the women spearfishing competitions, the one of 2021 in Italy and this one in Spain, Malen is the only women spearfishing Champion in history. She wins with 171.25%. Second on the podium is the amazing Alex Edwards (149.66%) and third another extraordinary athlete, Onyx Le Bihan (135.12%).
Just below the podium is the American athlete, Rosibel Molina Perurena (121.46%), and fifth is the second Tahitian, Taina Orth (115.82%). Sixth is Teresa Duarte (104.05%). Seventh Lidja Vukic (102.96%), followed by Isabel Arroyo Crespo (95.44%), Emanuela De Lullo (90.35%) and Marina Helluin (88.27%).
Teams final standings
In the men teams standings Spain (Lopez Cid – Cruz Gutierrez – Garcia Fernandez) is World Spearfishing Champion, with 410.88%, followed by an excellent Mediterranean team such as Italy (Puretti – De Mola – Strambelli) with 347.91%, while third on the podium is a magnificent Tahiti (Taea – Lamantiniere – Roncin) with 315.62%. In Tahiti there are less then 200.000 inhabitants, but apparently practically all of them spearfish, and this is visible by such an amazing result in such different waters.
Among the women teams standings again it is Spain (338.87% – Sart Bonnin – Arroyo Crespo – Romero Garcia) to conquer the World Title, with Tahiti (Le Bihan – Orth) behind (250.94%), penalized by having only two athletes competing. Third is an excellent United States (Perurena – Higgs – Burko), with 204.09%.