When Florida Skin Divers got the call that they were hosting the 2018 USOA National Spearfishing Championships, they were notably ecstatic.
The competition, which began in 1950, rotates through the five Regional Councils — Gulf Coast, East Coast, Midwest, Hawaii, and California. Each region is made up of various clubs that hold their own qualifying tournaments. The top three teams from each council then participate in Nationals. Teams are either three-person teams or a mixed team consisting of any combination of two male, a female, or a junior. The top three contestants from Nationals over a two-year period earn the honor to compete internationally on the USA Spearfishing Team.
The 2018 Nationals will take place at the Clearwater Yacht Club in Clearwater Beach, Florida June 25-29, 2018. Each of the two days of hunting begin with a shotgun start at 8am. Divers cannot enter the water until 9am and must exit the water by 3pm and be back at the weigh-in by 4pm.
The tournament fishing area is set by GPS coordinates and limits depth to 50 feet. Divers must weigh up to the first 20 legally allowable fish of various categories. No swapping of fish occurs; each diver is done when they shoot their 20th fish. Day 1 goes North. Day 2 goes South. The tournament area features literally hundreds of publicly available GPS coordinates for artificial reefs. Day 3 includes the awards banquet, The Banquet of Champions. There is also a raffle that benefits Team USA.
The tournament is an aggregate tournament with trophies for the Top 3 Men, Top 3 Women, Top 3 Juniors, Top 3 Teams, Top 3 Mixed Teams, and Largest Fish. The voluntary association of spearfishing clubs is designed to allow everyone to participate. There are currently sponsorship opportunities still available. Divers are expected to adhere to the buddy system for safety.
Volunteer Opportunity: Each dive boat must have a volunteer observer to ensure that the rules are followed for timing, location, and that each fish is landed without assistance. Volunteers may commit to one or both days and will receive an official observer t-shirt and complimentary meal/drink at the weigh-in. Contact Bill for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities at WVandeman@gmail.com or at 317-412-2626.
For more information about the National Championships, check out the Florida Skin Divers website.