Tiziana Martinelli, a fascinating smile and amazing passion, but overall, great spearfishing capacities. She is one of the strongest Italian athletes. Member of the Italian National Team, Tiziana was fifth overall and best of the Italian women at the last World Spearfishing Championship in Arbatax. She was penalized by a bad first day of competition, else she could have aimed for the podium, finally completely conquered by the extremely strong Spanish Team.
Change of sponsor
After many years with Polosub, one of the most known internationally tailor-made wetsuits manufacturers, Tiziana has just moved to Sigalsub. Also Italian, with Made in Italy design and production, Sigalsub is focused on the manufacturing of spearguns, like the new Nemesis and Nemesis Carbon, release mechanisms, shafts, wishbones, reels, muzzles and elastic bands. But masks, torches, fins and wetsuits are also in the Sigalsub product offer.
The interview by Gerardo Frustaci
Gerardo Frustaci: How a girl started and approached spearfishing is certainly very important considering that women in this sport are still, unfortunately, few. How was your extraordinary passion born?
Tiziana Martinelli: I have always had a special feeling with water. As a child, my parents used to take my sister and me to the Adriatic sea for long Summer holidays. At the age of 4, I received my first fins and mask as a gift from my father. My baths were endless and my curiosity and passion for the sea were born right there. My father spearfished along the artificial reefs of Fano (he still does today). I learned from him the first notions and his exploits led me to be even more attracted to the sea.
My passion for fishing was consolidated during the first holiday on Giglio Island with my husband, Jacopo Giandominici, in May 2008. Every morning at dawn, he went out to sea to go fishing for snappers and I, already a great lover of the sea and bewitched by the pink “predators”, that regularly he brought me back for breakfast instead of the more conventional cappuccino and croissant. So I asked him to bring me with him. From that moment on he taught me everything he knew, transforming me into his fishing partner and life partner.
- GF: You are always smiling, in every photo, the thing is extraordinary … what makes you angry in life and in spearfishing?
Tiziana Martinelli: I am a positive and sunny person, a smile is for me the simplest and most immediate expression to say “I’m happy”, and then how can you not smile when you go to the beach? On the contrary, in everyday life, I get angry when I do something wrong or there are injustices. In fishing, “snatch” a fish and lose it…. this is something that makes me lose my temper!
GF: Which techniques do you prefer?
Tiziana Martinelli: Ambush and aspetto are my favourites, although I like to be versatile by adapting the fishing technique according to the area, conditions and period. For some time I have been dedicating myself to refining the technique in the den given the need to practice it during competitive competitions.
GF: Where do you usually fish and what are the places you love and that have fascinated you the most, in Italy and abroad?
Tiziana Martinelli: I usually spearfish in the waters of the island of Giglio and Monte dell’Argentario, two places that have seen me born and grow up as a spearfisher and to which I am particularly attached. I am a great lover of the Mediterranean, especially of our Italian coasts. Abroad I had the pleasure of fishing in rich and difficult seas starting from Miami through Cape Verde, to the icy waters of Wales, up to the great Australian coral reef. Here is where we spent a month fishing on our honeymoon with Jacopo.
GF: Which is the most exciting capture? Can you tell us?
Tiziana Martinelli: Cape Verde Islands – Boa Vista November 2015
The ocean conditions strongly advise against going out by boat, so we decide to enter from land by going to explore the area of the island diametrically opposite to the one where we live.
Yesterday Jacopo took a beautiful African Pompano and today it’s my turn …
Onboard the usual pickup, we are accompanied to a point that seems to act as a watershed between two sides of the island which has very white beaches on the sides, the tip is made up of low dark rocks that come out towards the open sea.
The place is lovely, there is literally nobody, we are super privileged, all of this is just for us.
There is a problem to face though. Entering the water is not easy at all, huge waves crash on the shore, meters and meters of the beach are suddenly invaded by blinding white foam, the “breath of the sea” is truly powerful here. We are approaching the shoreline, even the height of the wave is not encouraging, however, we notice a certain regularity in the wave motion and it seems that there is a good chance of being able to overcome the very critical first thirty meters from the shoreline, swimming at full speed.
Speargun in hand, very tight mask and snorkel already worn, fins on my feet, looking out at the ocean for a window that gives me the confidence to start the very fast kicking out into the open. Here we are, we decide to leave. While kicking at full strength the undertow that still pushes towards the ground keeps me steady on the spot, then it fades a bit and I gain a few meters, but here is the first breaker that arrives, down! I dive to reduce the impact, it almost removes the mask from my face, the bottom is of flat rock luckily, I don’t hit anywhere, fins to the maximum even while diving, I resurface and gain a few more meters, inside of me I think that the worst is over, two other breakers hit me, but now their power is manageable by immersing me, the water is deeper, a few tens of seconds more tiring and I’m out of the “washing machine”.
Finning out to sea, always countering the current that comes from the east, I want to keep at the head of the powerful flow, a typical hunting area for predators.
Finally, we are in the good area, as soon as I get my breath back from the long kick, I try the first aspetto by lurking well behind the rocks emitting a guttural call but nothing, I go up. We move another hundred meters upstream of the current and try again. Jacopo goes down and once on the bottom chooses a niche that allows him to remain high compared to the surrounding rocks so that his vibrations and the call reach far, the view is long, in the distance, three silver fishes are slowly approaching. I am super concentrated, I enjoy the scene when I see Jacopo turning towards the surface in search of my gaze that he immediately finds and beckons me to go down. In the meantime, the three fish have approached closer, I immediately understand what to do. I quickly dive myself, lungs half empty and I go down very slowly, the big fins respond by approaching my silhouette that falls motionless towards the bottom, I align the speargun and the precise shot hits the biggest fish on the gill and it’s water skiing!
Jacopo chuckles, being dragged for about ten meters with the water gurgling around me is really fun! The escape is very powerful, I cling to the reel without allowing a meter more, aware of the fact that the battle is a strong call for sharks. After a few seconds, the big fish is in my hands, I am very happy. Me and Jacopo hug each other satisfied with the perfect teamwork but we continue to look around constantly. The stories about the big tiger that patrols the area push us to immediately return to land, since we are almost half a kilometre from the coast with a big bleeding fish in our hands.
The ocean shows no sign of calming down and without any hurry we head home. The taxi driver who accompanies us says he has never seen this species of fish so large. We are accompanied to the beautiful beach of Santa Monica for a swim. Here the waves are slightly lower and we play in the beautiful water. Once in the village, we take a fillet of meat from the big fish and we give the rest to the taxi driver who will take it to the island’s orphanage.
The day after the script repeats itself and I capture another beautiful African Pompano. “Two to one” will be the mockery that Jacopo will gladly take for the rest of the short vacation. “
GF: What advice would you have for girls who want to approach this sport and what advice for the Italian Federations FIPSAS and International CMAS to help women in this sport, both in amateur practice and in competitions?
Tiziana Martinelli: I recommend every woman or girl to approach spearfishing as I love to define it as a complete discipline. The main features are physical exercise to keep fit, mental exercise, concentration and relaxation, knowledge of oneself and of the environment that surrounds us and, last but not least, by spearfishing you have the possibility to select the fish to bring to the table and share with loved ones. We should dispel the myth that women are not suitable for predation and simply put them in a position to try!
A piece of advice for the Federations could be to advertise the practice by encouraging and forming teams, the Italian Federation for example created the women’s team in 2021. Also in the future organize independent competitions from the men’s sector.
GF: After so many years in Polosub you are joining Sigalsub and we wish you our greatest good luck. What do you think the future holds for you with Sigalsub?
Tiziana Martinelli: Sigalsub, in addition to being a rapidly expanding company, which develops and produces all types of spearfishing equipment, believes in and focuses heavily on the competitive world. Joining the Sigalsub Team is certainly a great incentive to give my best. Polosub has become part of my family, with Giuliano Tagliacozzo (founder and owner of Polosub) we have a deep friendship that goes beyond work and fishing.
GF: You are expert and very strong, tell us your real “secret” in spearfishing
Tiziana Martinelli: I love snapper spearfishing and when I am in the aspetto technique and I see the fish approaching, I flatten myself on the bottom trying to disappear and confuse myself even more in my stalking. Just like octopuses do I try to attract and stimulate the snappers’ territoriality more. … it usually works!
In any case, as far as I’m concerned, the trump card is passion, I give free rein to instinct and determination does the rest.