Helsinki-Kopenhagen-Lissabon-Faro, three flights before landing to the swamp of Faro. But all the memories of teenage trips to Algarve disappired from my head when I saw all my dear spear fishing equipments arriving. With out your own stuff spearfishers is like police with out snitches. I was in Portugal!
First night i slept in the railway station motel at Faro. I mean I slept with Australian techno youngsters and especially with their beats. In the morning i jumped to the buss and finally I was heading to the competition area, Sagres.
Sagres, a perfect little village. Old fisher men hanging in the streets with the rasta haired surfer boys and girls. The wind was coming from the west so all the outlawed surfers were hitting the waves and smoking weed in this empty point of Europe. I was too clean to able to communicate with the surfing communities so I went to visit the good lucking grandmother Maria. Maria was renting her flat to the lonely gun men like me. After paying 20 $ for the night I took the cold shower. Then I called with the fresh face to captain of Spain senior Tomeu Salas. I met Tomeu at Kristiansund cup, Norway. Because of my knowledge of bad words in spanish I was able to make connection with Iberian machos. Under Tomeu Salas Spain has won four world championships and many other titles around the globe. He is the real captain and also real friend of mine. all most captain hook!
After hugging Tomeu and the kids (Joseba Kerejeta, Pau Bardisa, Santi Lopez, Pedro Carbonell, Juan Fuentes and Alberto March) we went eat amazing dinner. Alberto has cached 7 kilogram sea bass and now it was on the table. Spanish guys have already been in Sagres two days so they were telling me how was the conditions. Water was 13 celsius and visibility 5 meters. Shit, even in Finland the situation was better. But I knew, harder the sea better for me for the viking.
At least ten dogs were waking me up, starting to bark exactly seven o’clock am. But I have served finish navy so dogs were not as horrible as sergeants. I eat breakfast with fresh Maria and then I headed finally to the harbor. Harbor of Sagres did not suppressed me. Old and always angry fishermen's were hanging there and looking foreigners like a foreigners. Those guys know the sea like the locals pubs but they have never seen under the surface, that is shame. Joan Fuentes was fixing his boat and I went talk with him. But I did not remember that he is from Almeria, Andalusia so his spanish is very difficult to understand. Anyway Santi Lopez jumped also to boat and three spearfishers headed to the competition zone.
West wind was huge and the waves were throwing a little zodiac. We could not pass the Cabo St. Vicente, which was in the middle of the competition area. So we were forced to stay at the east side of Cabo St. Vicente. Area for the European championships was excellent. One day the competition was at Atlantic ocean and second day at the Mediterrian sea. Cold Atlantic and warm Mediterrian, vikings against latinos, the situation could not be better! We were working all day in the zone. Spanish guys were checking the coast and I was diving deeper. I found immediately super nice rocks at the 15 meters. Mullets came from every were to check finnish smell. I also saw a lot of beautiful Sargos, but they were of course as nervous as junkies. Anyway the feeling after first day diving was great. I saw beautiful fish and I started to understand senior Fuentes spanish.
All the first week in Sagres was windy and we were not able to go to the west side of the Cabo St. Vicente.
West wind also meant that the cold and dirty Atlantic water was coming down to Sagres. The conditions were perfect for me. Water temperature at surface + 13 and in ten meters about +11. Visibility was really poor from 3 meters to 6 meters. I just hoped that the west wind would stay but of course it did not.
One week before the real competition wind turned to the east and warm and clear Mediterrian water started to approach. Also the huge waves were just an old memoir. All the teams started to scout the fish from the first day competition area which was the Atlantic side of Sagres. The Atlantic coast of Portugal is amazingly beautiful, aggressive and sharp rocks are fighting against the sea. You can feel the battle in your heart throe the noise and the pressure. Spear fishing in this coast is a privileged.
Breathing, concentration, going down, opening the eyes, current , heart beating, adrealing, waiting, aiming and finally killing. To explain spear fishing for the strangers, it is just not possible.
Other members of team Finland arrived one week before the competition. Team Spain changed to Rapo, Pyli, Pasi, Wuorikoski and to Vehmaskoski. We were scouting like hell but we went also to hunting. Coast of Atlantic offered nice action. Hysterical sargos, easy mullets. Rapo and Pasi pierced two times the fat more than 10 kilograms pargos. I was super happy about team Finland's condition for the European
but the nature did not want as to succeed. Two days before the start, mother fucken high pressure took over Portugal. Wind stopped, current was dead and the temperature of the sea started to rise. But it was no more time for the scouting it was time for the CMAS. Opening ceremonies were as legendary as usually. Long speeches, wrong national hymns and spearfishers from all europe frozen under the eye of president Ferrer. It seems that spearfishers do not have a future with CMAS, but at least I do not have any problem with that.
Finally it was the morning of the first competition day. Stupid high pressure was taking over , no waves and my worst dream came three. The current was totally gone. Anyway it was amazing sight when 50 rubber boats drove together to the starting point. I was having a feeling I was a part of Normandian....
The competition started. I had a good luck because at the lotto they gave me 5,5 meter zodiac with Yamaha 60 horse power. So I was among of the first competitors who started to fish close to the shore. Every scouting day the coast was full of Salpas. I thought I would have the 12 Salpas in one hour. Jee right. After half an hour I did not have any fish. Then I started to hunt deeper. I found my rocks at 24 meters but they was no current. I got 6 sea bream easily but I knew that this catch is going to be shit. I forced to move my self even more deeper. I looked all the signs in the coast and I found easily my secret rock at 32 meters. I was sure that this amazing place will give me a great memories. In the practicing days I saw there a lot of sargos and they weighted more than 4 kilograms. But of course the fish has disappired with the current. I started to panic. How it is possible that all the hard work I have done is going to be worthless. I told to the boat men to go as fast as he could another time to the coast. I was in the boat and i was depressed. I went to the nice rocks in the shore. In fifteen minutes I got two mullets and one sargo. It was not really going very strongly. This place I was fishing with Italian guys but they did not get many fish either. My only hope was that all the fish has disappired from the Portugal. But that was not the reality. Reality was that after the 5 hours of fighting the best guys came to the goal with 30 fish. And what I got 13 fishes. I felt like totally looser. I just could not believe that all my great places were almost totally empty just in the main day. But when i saw what kind of fishes the champions cathode I realized, they were mainly having the fish from the holes. So the swimming sea life was really somewhere else at the first competition day in Sagres. But anyway my dream to be inside of ten best was gone.
Pedro Carbonell was of course leader after the first day. He was practicing in Sagres already one year ago. Spanish guys are not living hang our days of Poseidon, they know everything of everything. But stay are still from this planet so...
Team Portugal was anyway leading after the first day. They know Sagres like I know my Volvo. They are having every year many competitions around the Cabo St.Vicente.
I am still very angry for the master who was controlling the weather. If the weather would stayed normal, huge waves and strong current, the fish would swam every where. But now because the master decided to keep the high pressure over Portugal, the competitors who knew all the secret holes made a good competition. The best guys came to the goal with three or four els more than five kilograms. I even did not know that els are hanging in the competition area. “La vida de guiri”.
Ok, spanish guys can also have a bad luck. Albero March shooed in the beginning of the competition one grouper. about five kilograms. After he cached another one, 18 kilograms. But because of the rules of the competition he could only take officially one grouper. He had to give the huge fish to the boat drivers family. Real fiasco was just waiting poor Alberto in the fish weighting. His smaller grouper weighted only 4.8 kilograms so he did not get any points, because the smallest size for grouper was 5 kilograms.
Shit happens and maybe because of this episode Alberto lost the medal, but who knows.
The European Championships fish weighting were of course theatrical happening. For me it was more like a tragedy. I was after the first day 16. So I wanted to hide and I felt very depressed. But then I was thinking like always in difficult times, I have a fucken nice girlfriend. Aaaa, i do not want to remember more about the first day at Portugal, thank you.
In the morning of the second day I decided to show to some people from where I am made of. I was in my own world. I did not talked to anyone. I was full of energy of depression. The second day competition area was totally in my head. I was having like six great places to fish. Also the whether changed. Nice wind and the big waves, everything looked great for me. Once again amazing sight. 40 boats ready to fight and kill the fish. This is the best sport in the world, fuck the people who do not understand as. I was recharging my
batteries. The second day started fine. After half an hour I was having 2 salpas, 2 sea bass, and 2 mullets.
There were many guys fishing close to me but I did not give a shit. I was full of adrenaline, I was fighting.
It is a obvious how fast the fish disappired from the coast. After one hour there were no fish. Of course I changed a place but almost everybody else did the same thing. I headed my self to the rocks of Forzaleza. There were many boats already but nobody could stay in the best spot because there were a huge current. I decided to give people a nice show.
The mullets were swimming in the current. There were many of them and they were in 18 meters. Going to 18 meters in the current is not the most easiest thing to do. I started to hunt them. I did 9 dives and every dives I get one mullet. I was proud of myself because my biggest problem in the past has been shity shooting. Now I just concentrated and with the experience from Galicia, I just pierced the mullets. So after two hours and half I was having 17 fish. i was so happy because I had made a bet with Carbonell and Tomeu Salas that i will get 20 fish in the second day. I was so sure that I will make it. Yeah, right!
Because I had the 12 mullets which was the limit I decided to move myself to the hard core waves.
The waves were more than four meters. they tooked me and they thowed me everywere. I was garzy but I wonted to my best. I dive at 20 meters and I waited sargos. I hitted my self to the rocks and the current was preasuring my balls. No fish and I was waisting my time. Two hours time and I was having 18 fish.
Last two hours were horrible. All the fish were scared or something. I just did not know. Maybe I was rookie of the year, but I got only one sargo in last two hours. So I lost the bet and I was down. I was having the same feeling when the teenage girls have pissed you of and you think that there is nothing left.
I really thought I could do a great competition at Portugal. Atlantic ocean is for me like my home. I have been fishing at Norvay; Lofots, France; Normandy-Bretagne and Spain; Galicia. Atlantic is my ocean but mister Poseidon did not like me in the competition weekend. When I came to the finish I told to Pedro that I was having 19 fish and last two hours were totally disaster for me. He said that he did not get any fish in last one and half hour. So the fish were really scared. Ok, Pedro was still having 33 fish or something.
The Portugal guys were having a huge party. They had made a fantastic competition. As a team they were taking the team gold. The small guys from Portugal were really fast almost acrobatic divers. They really earned the European Championship 2003. Pedro Carbonell won the title with a one fish, with one fish. Why it is almost always like this! Mister second was Andre Domingues, 20 year old future super champion. Third was Ruy Torres, serious guy with the hair in the jaw. The European championships at Portugal were a great competition. Two days fishing in totally different conditions. Also the organisation was ok and the people were really suporting spearfishing. It is very important that the people who are making the competitions are really spearfisher or their hearts are close to our sport. Like we know many of the CMAS guys are not so happy about our life style. Anyway Portugal federation made a beautifull dinner separeted from the CMAS puppets and they gave as a nice trophys and weird souveniers.
It was nice to be in the restaurant which was full of fish killers. We were eating and drinking and hugging, but not crying. Freedom, we need our own world wide spearfishing union!
Sun was still somewhere in Russia when I woke up at met the team Algeria. We jumped in the big van and I started to drive to the airport of Lagos. I had slept three hours and Algerian guys were parting all night so they were a bit lost. We talked in french all about spearfishing in Algeria and Finland. This nice one hour with the african guys finally made me feel happy. The competion in Portugal went shit but what ever, I have a great girl friend and fantastic culture of spearfishing. I am so proud to be part of these old elegant way of hunting. Only the spearfisher can understand another spearfisher. We have all great memories in the sea. In the earth the sea is the real jungle and we are the Tarzans, I just wish thet there would be more Janes!
I am writing this story at Finland. I am looking out from Finland. The snow is coming down and north wind is killing all the erotic thougs from your head. I also suffered of spearfishers depression. When you have been under the surface many weeks it feels that I do not belong here, in the dry land. Any way I will not give up. Spring will always come and all the spearfishing amigos are still alive. So lets keep on rocking!
Matti Pyykkö, Hanko, Finland 29.10.03
Sukelluskalastus, Vedenalainen kalastus, UV-kalastus, Harppuuna kalastus, Harppuuna, Räpylä uinti, Spearfishing, Underwater hunting, Speargun, Blue water hunting, Chasse sous-marine, Pesca submarina, Spearfishing in Finland, Utten vatten fiske, UV-jakt