The traditional Semana Master 2024 competition, held each year at the end of January in Palma de Mallorca, once again brought together notable names in spearfishing and surprised everyone with the quantity and variety of fish caught during the two days in the Bay of Palma. Also this year, the competition was sponsored by Beuchat.
Experts note that never before have so many groupers and large scorpionfish been caught, possibly making this edition record-breaking. Ideal weather conditions, a completely calm sea, no wind, and an external temperature between 18 and 20 degrees in the sun-soaked Palma undoubtedly contributed. True, it made things a bit easier for boatmen, but also for the competitors when wind and waves didn’t hinder them.
Four different competitions were held over two days, organized by the Federacion Balears de Actividades Subacuaticas. The XXI Master (Torneo de Maestros) Ciutat de Palma and the IV CMAS Women’s Cup Ciutat de Palma, two individual competitions, took place on Friday, January 26, while on Saturday, January 27th the CMAS Master’s World Cup +50 for teams held for the first time together with XXII Open Ciutat de Palma – 40th-anniversary Trophy “Pep Amengual”.
Semana Master returned to the Real Club Nautico de Palma after the competition’s base was in the port and club Portixol in recent years.
As for the winners, it’s hard to say it was unexpected. Malen Sart (Spetton) and Oscar Cervantes (C4 Carbon), who returned to Semana Master after a four-year break, stood at the top of the winner’s podium both days, but let’s go step by step…
“This year has been amazing because we have caught more fish than ever before. But also the conditions have been like spring. Very good weather, clear water. It was as if we were fishing in April. The sea was cold, but as you go outside and the sun warms you up a bit, you can stand it more”, said the returning Champion Oscar Cervantes.
IV CMAS Women’s Cup
It’s a real pity that only five women competitors participated in the individual competition, and it’s a big surprise that, apart from Malen Sart Bonin, who lives in Mallorca, no other member of the Spanish national team participated.
Malen Sart Bonin secured a convincing victory with 13 fish of four different species, earning her a total of 13,595 points. During the five-hour fishing, Malen caught nine brown wrasses, one green wrasse, one white seabream, and two red scorpionfish, one of which was her heaviest catch at 790 grams.
“I had an absolute blast! Spent the entire day in the water yesterday, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In contrast to last year’s frigid conditions, this year, the weather has been perfect, and I haven’t felt cold at all. There’s something special about being out there, catching fish, and immersing yourself in the experience. I did one-day preparation for my area and three days for the World Cup. We are from here, we had work from other years and it was enough”, said Malen Sart.
The second place went to French competitor Amandine Gomez (Denty), who caught a brown meagre, a green wrasse, a white seabream, and two red scorpionfish, earning a total of 8,220 points. The heaviest catch was a green wrasse with 705 grams. Victoria Truyols Juan de Sentmenat finished third with a mullet weighing 525 grams. Ernestina Pons Sbert and Jeronima Vadell Bonet did not have valid catches.
XXI Master Ciutat de Palma
For the prestigious title of “Maestro” this year, 12 fishermen competed, all well-known names that promised an interesting and unpredictable weighing. However, no one could predict that five of them would have catches that could best be described with the phrase “wow.” Groupers, white groupers, large red scorpionfish, or “grandfathers,” as they affectionately called them, decorate the rich lines alongside all the smaller usual fish.
Oscar Cervantes, Carlos Martorell (Cressi) , Raul Astorga (Beuchat), Giacomo de Mola (Pathos), and Gerasimos Kavvadias (XT Diving), but also Guillaume Eugene (Pathos), winner of the 2023 edition, were among those fighting for victory. Astorga entered the title race in the final moments of the competition by catching his second large grouper in the last dive. Gabriele Delbene arrived in Mallorca after a long illness and had to give up the podium battle this year as he couldn’t return to form after spending about 20 days in bed. Returnee Italian spearfisherman Nicola Riolo withdrew from the individual competition and focused on the veterans due to sinus problems. Cesar Bustelo couldn’t start due to an engine malfunction, and Ayoze Monzon lost an hour and a half while the technical service replaced his lost propeller.
After the weighing, four competitors had more than 50,000 points, and Oscar Cervantes won with 56,435, only 1,285 points more than the second-placed Carlos Martorell with 55,150, while Raul Astorga finished third with 52,320 points. Italian star Giacomo de Mola was fourth with 51,585 points, and Greek representative Gerasimos Kavvadias was fifth with 44,190 points.
Oscar Cervantes caught a total of 25 fish, seven different species, and closed four cups. The largest fish was an incredible white grouper weighing 16,850 grams, which was also his record for this fish. The rest of the catch consisted of two congers, two moray eels, seven red scorpionfish, seven brown meagres, five forkbeards, and one black seabream.
“It’s been four years since my last visit, with a pause due to COVID-19 and a period of illness when I only participated in the open with Dani Gospic, skipping the Master. This year, I made a deliberate decision to join the Master, arriving to enjoy the day and relish the experience. Familiar with the area, I prepared the zone for three days leading up to the event. However, once you’re inside the sea, the allure of fishing takes over.
I encountered a significant white grouper at 40 meters, with my deepest catch this year reaching 43 meters, spanning a range of 38 to 43 meters. Winning wasn’t necessarily my expectation, but as I fished, I could sense that things were going well. Despite a setback when I missed a grouper, I was determined to make a comeback. Hearing that everyone else had two groupers, I felt uncertain about how to counter this setback. Nevertheless, we proceeded to weigh the catch, and it turned out I had more quotas and species. The experience was a testament to the unpredictability of fishing and the resilience required to navigate the challenges”, said Oscar Cervantes.
Carlos Martorell made a fantastic result with two groupers weighing 13,060 grams and 8,270 grams, seven red scorpionfish with the heaviest weighing 2,470 grams, as well as a forkbeard, two white seabreams, a brown meagre, a green wrasse, two moray eels, and a conger. In total, 17 fish, eight species, and three cups.
Raul Astorga, in third place, also had two groupers, a white one weighing 10,005 grams and a regular one weighing 12,070 grams, a moray eel, ten forkbeards, seven brown meagres, and a brown wrasse. In total, 21 valid fish, six different species, and three cups.
During the award ceremony, Carlos Martorell, who had a picture of his late brother David with him, couldn’t hide his tears, and those present bid farewell with long and loud applause to the dedication.
CMAS Master’s World Cup +50
In its first edition, this entirely new competition by CMAS for veterans over 50 years old gathered only six teams, with the hope that it will grow from year to year.
Malen Sart Bonin, accompanied by her husband Sebastia Torre Gimenez and Chus Exposito Ruiz, won another gold for her rich collection. The Buona Sera team celebrated with 28,330 points, only 705 points more than the silver Italia Sud team, represented by Nicola Riolo, Raffaele Licchio Loprete, and the legendary Pedro Carbonell as boatmen. The Italian team finished with 27,625 points. The Beuchat Team – Bittor Mentxakatorre Agirre, Pedro Santiago Ramon Marques, and Pierre Roy finished third with 20,015 points.
The Buona Sera team caught 22 fish, seven different species, and also had one cup. Ten mullets, one Atlantic horse mackerel, seven white seabreams, a brown wrasse, an amberjack, a gilthead seabream, and a seabass, with the largest specimen being a mullet weighing 1,335 grams.
“I’m overjoyed, and it’s not just about the outcome. The entire experience has been fantastic – from the delightful weather to the excellent facilities provided by the Real Club Náutico, a true luxury we’ve managed to secure once again. There have been countless factors contributing to my happiness. Moreover, today’s championship holds a special place in my heart. It marks the inaugural World Championship for veterans, and I had the pleasure of sharing this exciting journey with a newfound friend. Although our acquaintance is relatively recent, the connection has been strong, and our shared enthusiasm has made the experience truly special. The joy I feel extends beyond the result; it’s a culmination of everything that accompanied this memorable event. I am genuinely happy, incredibly so.
Today, I started on the boat, thinking I might join in later if things were going well. And you know what? The conditions were perfect, and I ended up doing the same job, and dare I say, sometimes even a better job, because to be honest they are not that good, ha ha ha. Let me tell you, the joy of it all is heightened when you realize you’re having a great time, and everything, from the weather to the fishing, falls perfectly into place”, said Malen Sart.
Italians Riolo and Loprete had 25 fish, six species, and also one cup. On the line, there were ten brown wrasses, six green wrasses, two white seabreams, two brown meagres, a black scorpionfish, and four mullets, with the heaviest weighing 1,110 grams.
Beuchat team caught 14 fish, eight species, three white seabreams, three green wrasses, a red mullet, a dentex, a brown wrasse, a John Dory, a seabass, and three mullets. Their heaviest catch was also a mullet weighing 1365 grams.
XXII Open Ciutat de Palma – 40th Anniversary of Trophy “Pep Amengual”
The battle for the podium in the Open, where 18 teams competed, featured the same contenders as in the Master, but this time, Oscar Cervantes, Carlos Martorell, and Raul Astorga competed with their respective teams. The ranking was once again the same, with Oscar Cervantes standing on the highest step of the podium. The CIAS team, including Cervantes, Jose Luis Fernandez, and Miguel Angel Oliver, emerged victorious.
Second place went to Carlos Martorell and his teammates Joan Campins and Marc Antonio Caballero, from the Baleares Cressi Team, while Raul Astorga, along with Ayoze Monzon and Sergio Medina, once again finished third, forming the Beuchat team.
Once again, the best brought in an impressive catch.
The CIAS team had 28 fish, eight species, and three cups, earning them 58,095 points. Once again, the largest catch was a white grouper weighing 12,245 grams. Additionally, they brought another white grouper, six mullets, one amberjack, a forkbeard, three brown meagres, six white seabreams, seven red scorpionfish, a moray eel, and a conger to the scale.
“Today was an absolute blast! Our day began by catching mullet along the shore, and the excitement only grew as we ventured further. The real highlight was the discovery of a large grouper, a species we hadn’t encountered before. This particular spot, where I had spotted a scorpion fish a few days earlier, turned out to be quite eventful. Miguel Ángel, in a remarkable sequence, managed to hook both a small white grouper and a conger. As he surfaced, the conger unexpectedly bit him on the arm, adding a surprising twist to our adventure. Despite the unexpected turn of events, the day was filled with laughter, making it incredibly enjoyable. We had an absolute blast and cherished every moment of the experience”, said Cervantes.
The members of the Baleares Cressi Team also had an equally impressive catch, with 50,260 points. The largest catch was a grouper weighing 10,485 grams, accompanied by another grouper weighing 4,365 grams, seven red scorpionfish, the heaviest of which weighed 2,335 grams, eight white seabreams, three brown meagres, and three forkbeards.
The Beuchat Team caught two also groupers, a white one weighing 11,785 grams and a regular one weighing 2,605 grams, as well as two red scorpionfish, two blacktail bream, seven brown meagres, eight forkbeards, and two congers, earning them 48,640 points.
Miguel Angel Oliver, from the winning team, shared a story about the conger:
“Well, it was quite funny – a conger and a grouper came out of the same shot. As we surfaced, the conger decided to bite my shoulder, but everything turned out well. The conger bit my shoulder because my spear was on its tail, leaving its head free to bite. Fortunately, Oscar quickly delivered another shot, allowing us to control the situation effectively.“
Experienced Jose Luis Fernandez also shared few words about an excellent day:
” The truth is, with this team of excellent spearos who excel in deep diving, we aimed to secure a spot on the podium, and we successfully achieved it. We kicked off in shallow waters at 4-5 meters, capturing some mullets. Once we warmed up, we ventured out to check our marked spots. Some fish cooperated, while others remained elusive. Slowly but surely, we persevered. Our luck turned when Miguel Ángel skillfully caught a splendid grouper, giving us a significant boost. We continued the fight, and things worked out well. Speaking of big grouper, it was quite amusing. Oscar directed me to descend at one spot while he explored another nearby. Fortunately, luck was on my side as I encountered the grouper precisely at the spot I descended to.“
A special celebration with a Legend
Jose Pep Amengual is a legend in the world of spearfishing, and the 40th edition of the trophy was a splendid opportunity for all those who had triumphed through the years to gather. Pep Amengual’s entrance into the large hall of the Binicomprat restaurant elicited minutes-long applause from the assembled crowd. Despite their modest and reserved nature, Pep and his wife Loret received special recognition alongside all former winners of the Pep Amengual Trophy. The joint celebration of the great athlete’s significant anniversary with all Semana Master participants, organizers, CMAS guests, and friends of spearfishing was the icing on the cake for another Semana Master, an event that marks the beginning of each year and celebrates spearfishing most beautifully.
Fish for charity, as always in Palma
Once again, all the catches from this year’s event went to the SOS Mamas organization, which redirected the catch to the “Escuela Hosteleria de Son Servera les Puig de Sa Font” school. There, students will learn about fish species and their anatomy before preparing and converting them into meals. The finished meals will be returned to SOS Mamas, who will distribute them to families in need.