Simon Trippe Interview Transcription
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Hello, and welcome to the Noob Spearo podcast where we interview experts, authorities, and characters on all things spearfishing. Come and join us after the show at noobspearo.com, the online spearfishing community helping you to become a better spearo. Here are your hosts for the show, Shrek and Turbo.
Shrek: G’day, Noobspearo community, today we’re chatting with a very experienced Sydney spearo. He began spearfishing with his father, Rick, in about 1976 around the rocks of Balmoral Beach in Sydney. And by age 10, he had speared South Solitary Island and he’d become hooked. Simon, is it trip or tripe?
Simon: C’mon, mate, it’s trip, fall over.
Shrek: Simon Trippe is a life member of the Sans Souci Dolphins Spearfishing Club. He’s been-
Simon: It’s Souci, not sushi.
Shrek: Souci. Souci?
Simon: Souci, not I like sushi, yeah.
Turbo: So he’s actually a kiwi Simon, so I’m going to apologize. That’s how they speak.
Shrek: Simon Trippe, our featured guest is a life member of the Sans Souci Dolphins Spearfishing Club. He’s been active on various boards, roles, and committees to ensure spearos rights are enhanced here in Australia. Simon is also the USFA Sports Secretary. He’s a certified Apnea Australia Instructor with the Australian Spearfishing Academy and he voluntarily gives his time to deliver safety and ethics classes to spearos up and down the East coast of Australia.
Turbo: Fantastic. So I’m going to start here, mate, just to get a little information on where you started your spearfishing career?
Simon: Yeah, look mate, my father, Rick, as you heard, he still is a mad keen spearo, he dives in filthy water and thinks nothing of it. Loves it amongst the crocs. I’ll tell you a story about that later with myself and him and a crocodile. In Sydney, diving at Balmoral Beach as a young kid, Dad always ended up in and around the nude beaches there for some reason, we’d go out there and say hi to everybody, bring a few fish and offer fish to all the girls. It was the classic, oh I’ll clean them for you, I’ll fillet them for you, and he kept chatting away. So it was interesting to say the least as a young guy. And I kind of remember we went for holidays. And I was diving near the Isle of Pines and it was just crystal clear and seeing fish like that left the surge of middle head for dead. And we came back and Dad found an excuse to go out to the Solitary Islands which he’s always had a love affair with. We were always in pubs and there was a keg strike and Dad needed to get some beer so he told my mum. So he’d drive up there with a good mate and an empty trailer filled up with kegs and while we were there we slipped in a dive and we dived with the legend called Sid Harvey. He was an Australian representative in his day, and he was a professional fisherman then and he took us to South Solitary and a few of his pet spots. And I got my first red mowie there and that was an achievement and I was just pumped. Saw some massive brown nose sharks, a couple whalers, and things like that and it was just adrenaline coursing through me. Back then I couldn’t hold my breath for ten seconds, it’s probably about five seconds better now today. But it just got me fired up. I loved it. Coming back to Sydney at school, I got a heap of mates hooked into it. I did a talk, a presentation in my English class on spearfishing with a good mate of mine. And he’s still a great mate of mine today, we still speak. He lives in Coffs, his names Andrew Harvey. On the bus on Sundays, we’d have up to 14, 15 guys on the bus all trekking out from Red Fern out to Coogee Beach. There’s an island off there that we used to go and spend nights on while terrorizing the local mowie population. Occasionally we’d get a nice fish, and yeah, that was good. The gear we had, mate, was just all hand-me-downs. I was in the club by then. Dad had moved to Darwin when I was 12,13.
Shrek: The same San Souci club?
Simon: Yeah, yeah mate, I’ve got a lot of sort of uncles, you could say. And big brothers that’d look after you and scrounge a wetsuit hood from one of them, and a pair of torn out wetsuit shorts from another and we’d be wearing sloppy joes, we really were. A couple of jumpers over us to keep us warm. We were literally using rope for weight belts and a couple of leads. And it was just fantastic. And the old guns we were using are collector’s items now, it’s just stuff that all the guys had in the shed that they weren’t using anymore. Things like (Turnbulls?) and stuff like that, just aren’t around. Using little black rubber fins, swimming out to Wedding Cake Island, and it was quite a feat. It was the good old days. And there were some great days. I think back a lot, lots of rock hopping.
Shrek: Sounds like a pretty tight-knit family sort of club back in those days. Simon, is it still like that these days?
Simon: Yeah, look mate, that’s a good question. Back then and before we started recording, we were talking about that sort of brotherhood. It was a small club, the dolphins, we were lucky to have 20 blokes all up. Maybe 10 guys would go to a meeting, but all of us were thick as thieves knowing each other through the 60’s and 70’s, the 80’s, some were young, some were older obviously.
But the club, we worked out and that we were getting guys coming and wanting to spearfish, and we were I don’t know, we were hard. And we worked that out 15 years ago. We were only keeping one in eight guys who would come to the club. I think we were scaring them all away. We would take them out on the boat, they’d vomit everywhere, and we’d say dash these two concrete pills mate and harden up. And we were wondering why they never came back for another dive. Hey he was a nice guy, what happened to him? What went wrong? And so we did a big survey and we asked a lot of questions to guys and we tracked down a few guys that did come. A lot of them had big egos and thought that they could shoot, shit, electrocute, etc. and they weren’t up to it and I think they were embarrassed as well. Big noters and it cut the weak from the chaff but we wanted a lot more so we dropped a lot of our bravado I think amongst the boys and now we’ve got over 120 social members in the club. The club’s massive. In a meeting we get anywhere from 30 to 70 guys come to a meeting. It’s fantastic, and knowledge is just all over the place and new guys come in all the time, they’re like sponges. It’s great. We tell them just come up and annoy us. People direct them over to me and as long they’ve got a Bundy (rum) in their hand I’m happy to talk to them, you know and that’s great.
Shrek: Yeah, so it sounds like you guys run some sort of induction for these guys or do you encourage them to get into an entry level course or what’s the story to get such a high retention rate of these new people coming in the doors?
Simon: Look, what it is, I think we don’t push membership. We allow them to come in, we have a bbq, it’s very social, and there’s a bar at the fishing club where we meet. And we’re just friendly, we designated maybe half a dozen mentors in the club. And we’re still doing it today, calling out blokes and saying you’ve been here long enough, you’re capable, you’re not an idiot. Next meeting, two new guys, you go up to them and you talk to them. They’re yours, you choose them and you look after them.
It’s great, now we’ve got quite a few guys who’ve got boats, and boats talk. If you’ve got a boat, you can take guys out and guys love that, the whole experience of going out in a boat as well. Rock hopping is mighty fine in Sydney. We’re lucky, you can rock hop just about anywhere on Sydney’s coastline. But I think just the whole… we got the feedback from guys, one guy practically hugged me, he brought his son along after he had been there for a year who’s a teenager and he said, mate, straighten my boy out. Let’s take him out diving, and I said, for sure, and he’s hugging me and he said, I’ve learned more spearfishing in the year and a half with you guys than I’ve learned ten years diving with my mates.
Shrek: That’s a great success story.
Simon: Yeah it is mate, and that’s the thing with the club and we get so many new guys say that, before we were very close, guarded, and now I want to share my cray hole, and now I want to take blokes for a jewy. Come on, let’s get these guys a first. And when you share, (you share their stoke). Because you only get your first once, you know, your first jewie, your first kingy, your first red, and that’s cool. And then you get more, and you can get bigger and better Personal Best’s but the first one you’ll always bloody remember. And so I’m greedy now, if I share in somebody else who gets their first, I’m claiming the stoke with them, it’s great. A lot of us have realized it’s good to share that. That’s the big buzz of the dive.
Turbo: Yeah, we recently took out a guy staying with us from Argentina and we took him out for the day and he shot his first fish ever, he shot a mowie and he was absolutely stoked, this guy, he couldn’t believe it. He’s plastered it all over Facebook in Spanish, I think he’s Argentina’s first spearo.
Shrek: Yeah we’ve had that experience a few times, and it is special too, it’s as good as shooting your own first fish because you’re helping someone else out.
Simon: You just don’t knock their enthusiasm as long as they don’t shoot a bigger fish than yours, they’re alright. Haha
Shrek: One of our other friends recently started a bit of an antic on the boat where the newest guy on the boat, regardless of what fish he shoots on they day, at the end of the days trip, he has to hold up the fish for photos that the other guys delegate to him. So lately we’ve been shooting less illustrious fish just so he’s got something to take home and have some perhaps not so illustrious photos to put up on his Facebook wall. And we’ve been enjoying little rituals like that. I think that’s what makes a good club environment successful, Simon, and it sounds like you guys have a lot more of that going on down there.
Simon: Yeah, mate. We have a lot of fun, we make it a lot of fun. We have trips away always up and down the coast from Eden you know, up to Coffs Harbor. Wooli. Big weekends, they’re great, we plan them months ahead. Get out there and we, you know, guys who have shot umpteenth kingys or whatever, so they go out of their way to get new blokes a kingy and once that’s done then they’ll find a fish themselves. The new guys appreciate it, they hang around, and then it’s pay it back. In another year or two, these guys they’ve got a boat, they’re doing the same thing. It’s a great culture.
Shrek: I was just going to say, it sounds like a great culture. That’s awesome.
Turbo: Alright. So we have a question that we like to ask and you mentioned before you had a story about a crocodile from up North.
Simon: Mate, yeah, when I was young bloke I moved up to Darwin just out of school, to get more lessons in life. I’d had a good day on the punt, went to the casino, had a better night (inaudible). I partied on to whatever time in the morning, got home, and I was living with my grandparents at the time, and I lived right above Fannie Bay Beach and it’s a just a walk down to the beach there. You’ve got to stroll out about 400-500 meters to get to shin-deep water I suppose. I brought this gun-dog with me. Hang on, I’ve jumped ahead about half an hour. I’ll keep the story to one minute. So Rick’s come in at whatever time in the morning to try and take me diving . He says the tides in, it’s deep, it’s high let’s go, let’s go. And I’m like, get out of here, leave me alone. I think I was experiencing my second ever hangover. It was heated. It’d gone quiet so I’ve gone back to sleep, and the next second I’ve jumped out of bed, I’m completely soaked, he’d thrown a bucket of water on me. And he’s bolted because he knew I’d chase him and I wanted to kill him. He’s raced out the door, run straight across the road, and I’m still chasing him across the road. I almost got collected by a car.
And then he stopped and he’s laughing his head off. And he’s gone back, got all the dive gear, put it on top of the rocks there, so it’s just the walk down the cliff. He said it’s here, the water’s actually clean, so let’s go. So he got me. We’ve got down, we start walking across and I’m sweating bricks, because we haven’t got wetsuits on or anything.
The dog’s right next to me when all of a sudden he goes stiff. We’re 500 meters from shore. And I’m starting to think I’m just going to crawl along until I get to the drop off. But then when the dog went stiff I sort of looked over to the side and there’s this splash, splash, splash and it’s this bloody saltwater croc, two meters plus, just cruising past us wagging its tail and its snout, you know what it’s doing I’m going holy crap. I yelled out, hey Dad, look! And he’s turned around, what? And he’s gone, oh good grief! And he’s stopped and I stop and it’s kind of cruising in between us and went up towards the point and I said, that’s all I need, I’m going back to bed.
And Rick’s going, no wait wait, just wait it’s gone off, come back! And I ended up beating him off and dropped the gear in the water and ran and so he had to get all the gear. Later that day, c’mon let’s go up there, and I said that’s where the croc went. No, no, no we’ll be alright. Later on the 5:30 NT news that night, it came up, they caught the bloody thing right where he wanted to go diving that afternoon. So he’s a freak, Rick, and I’ve never forgotten that. It’s just too funny. Yeah there are things you do, the stories you remember.
Shrek: So I guess that was one of your scariest moments spearfishing, was it?
Simon: Yeah, I think I was too numb from the hangover to be scared, it was more shock and going, what the…? Yeah, we’ve all had some scary runs.
Turbo: If you were going to share a story of your most memorable fish, what fish would you talk about? What story?
Simon: Oh my, I’ve been sketching this all day. The wife clipped me up over the head three times today to keep me from daydreaming.
Shrek: You’ve got a hoard of good memories by the sounds of it.
Simon: Yeah, drool’s been coming out of my mouth.
Turbo: Not a red mowie, was it?
Simon: Mate, you know that was special. 50 foot viz off the front of South Solitary as a ten-year-old that was awesome. Not that I was diving 50 feet but it was pretty clean. I’ve thought about it, I’ve probably I think, sharing my first good dog tooth. I’ve shot some great fish in Sydney. The first of everything, but the dog tooth is a memorable one.
I think it was my 3rd Coral Sea trip and I hadn’t got a doggy. I’ve had some horror stories with them between gear, sharks and everything. Everyone was getting sharked with their fish off this dropoff off Marion Reef. And it was a particularly windy day, choppy, rough. We got in the water, I said to the boys, I’m not going to shoot anything except a dog tooth. Soon as I get in the water, a 25kilo wahoo swims right up to me, I go, damn! And I said bugger this, I’ve taken coral sea trips and lost wahoo here before but I got a couple in Sydney which was a great first as well.
Anyway I wanted one, 15 minutes later, Rick’s passed up a wahoo about 7 feet long. Literally my mate’s coming up from the bottom. I’m on the surface and we’re thinking, this is going to be fantastic. We’re both watching this huge, big, blue, barbed thing swimming past Rick at point blank range. And Rick didn’t shoot it. He’s got his gun trained on it the whole time and then he’s pointed at it and started swimming but the wahoo’s spooked then, and we’re both screaming at him at the same time, I won’t use obscenities and repeat what we said, he’s my father after all and I’m embarrassing him enough as it is. But he looked at me and said, you said you were only going to shoot dogtooth and that was just a dirty barracuda. And oh man, I almost killed him, and I was drowning laughing anyway.
Ten minutes later some big doggies came in, I went down, did everything right. I swam away from the flasher, they came in on the flasher, swam back to the flasher, the dogtooth got interested, I chose a good one, plugged it, and he took off. There were about four sharks following it, when the dogtooth disappeared, I freestyled after him. Two minutes later, I’m still heading in the direction of the float, then it comes soaring back to me and there’s about forty sharks following it. I grab hold of the float and it starts towing me but I’m slowly gaining ground pulling it up, pulling it up with heaps of sharks following it and my best mate’s right there. So I told Rick to get in the boat, pull the anchor up because we used to anchor dorys back then. And unlike now where we always have a boatie now for safety.
He’s yelling pull it up man, pull it up, and I’m saying no no, it’s alright, I’ve just got to get this right. And he’s there saying, pull her up it’s going to get eaten, and it had little three foot whalers rubbing their noses, their snouts along the flank of the fish. And I just thought, I’ve got to do this quickly, so I called the boat right over next to me, and I thought as soon as I grab the shaft it’ll wriggle and that’ll set the sharks off but I’ve slipped it off, got it on the tail, hand up the gill, and in one movement threw it into the boat. And it was beautiful. Then the dogtooth went bang bang bang in the tinny, but what we didn’t see were all these massive silver tips on the bottom, 50, 60 foot below us. And they just came up like missiles and I just dropped everything and jumped over into the boat. Poor Eddy still had a loaded gun and everything and so he just got harassed untill he literally climbed over the bow of the dory and so yeah it was a great experience. We were high-fiving, and yeah it was an average doggy, about 30kilos, but it was my first and it was over 30 and so I was just rapt. It was very special. The time, effort, and money you put in for it.
Shrek: Neither of us have shot doggies yet, I haven’t got a wahoo yet. There’s a lot of firsts to come yet for myself.
Simon: Aw yeah, mate I wish I could have a clean page man, start all over again. I envy the young blokes today, all the gear they’ve got, the technology that’s behind them, all the learning they’re getting now. It took years. I’m serious, umpteen trips around the coast, all the technique you learn and pick up along the way and these guys just pick it up so quickly now. They’re so lucky.
Shrek: Yeah one thing I was going to ask you was have you done many trips away from Australia? And what would be the best of them? And perhaps what would you recommend to people that are interested in traveling away from Australia?
Simon: It’s a bloody good question you ask and it’s something I’m just about to write in my piece I do for SDM magazine. I’m going to write a few hundred words about it. With Facebook and just this whole exposure to international waters, every man and his dog that does FIFO is going there. They get that time off, they’re shooting off these young blokes, they’re not married, they haven’t got kids, and they’re just in Indo and then next they’re in French Polynesia shooting 109 kilogram dogtooth you know? Them they shoot a 62 kg wahoo the next day.
Shrek: John Pengaly, yeah that was significant.
Simon: Yeah, I love you John, I don’t hate you mate. It’s fantastic. It’s great, mate, I’ve dived… crikey, that bloody island off San Diego, I should know it. I’ve lost it. I’ve been out there with Terry Mass, wrote about the white sea bass, I’ve had a dive there. Never saw a white sea bass but I’ve shot the big sheep’s heads and stuff, that was fun. I’ve dived near Cali… what’s that little island across the ditch from us?
Shrek: New Zealand.
Simon: Yeah, that’s it.
Shrek: There’s a couple of islands.
Simon: Yeah I had a great trip there. I dived the nationals there.
Shrek: Nice, choice.
Simon: Mate, they looked after me. They gave me a sole caravan that hadn’t been lived in in forty years, possums were coming down and trying to steal my breakfast.
Shrek: More than you deserve, Simon.
Simon: Mate, it was great. I had a great time. Big snapper at 10 and a half kgs.
Shrek: Yeah, wow.
Simon: Yeah, had a ball. Wasn’t bad for a Sydney kid. The Solomon Islands I’ve got a soft spot for. Where else? Mate, I’ve pretty much dived every state in Australia and overseas, not all that much. Not all that much. I like to think I will be doing more in a few years time. When the kids get older.
Shrek: Looking forward to seeing some photos in SDM Magazine already.
Turbo: Look, now we like to do a section on the show called ‘Veteran’s Vault’ and basically we like to ask our veteran or expert what they’d like to talk about and what they’d like to about and communicate to our audience and perhaps give them some actionable steps or information to go away with.
Simon: Mate, alright, I’ll start with this I’ve jotted a few things down. I think advice, first and foremost, is to find yourself a good retailer and someone that’s going to sell you a speargun and a wetsuit that actually uses a speargun and a wetsuit. I don’t know, I think build a good relationship with those people. Face to face contact is fantastic like that. I can’t recommend it highly enough. We’re lucky enough in Sydney we’ve got two or three guys who are fantastic for it. Um I think then, that good retailer should be selling you good gear. You need to have some good gear. If you buy wisely now, it’s going to save you a lot of money in the future. So don’t buy a hundred dollar pop gun when in six months time, from watching YouTube tutorials on how to spearfish, or coming to do courses, you’ll want a 1.3 Rob Allen or 1.1 Rob Allen, whatever. Sorry for naming brands, but that seems to be the generic. But yeah whatever horses for courses are in your area. You realize shit I’ve just spent $500 on a gun that’s just too big for me, or a 1.4 won’t work. Or jeez, this 90cm cray basher I bought, I want to go shoot Spanish now, so I need a 1.4. So get good gear and take the retailer’s advice.
And then I’ve saying here again, take advice, find a club or get on Facebook and find blokes. There’s plenty of forums out there. Get out there, make mates with them. Don’t be a goose, don’t be a dickhead, kind of a know-it-all. I can’t stand people that come and want to learn but they’re telling me how to spearfish. I kind of have an idea, I still am learning, but you’ve come here to ask me questions. How about you let me tell you a couple of answers. Take advice, take it on board and try it out.
And the other thing is, do a course. If you can afford it, if you can do it, if you’ve got the time, do a course. Freediving course, spearfishing course, do it with someone who’s knowledgeable, who’s accredited. Not just a fly-by-nighter. That has an idea on spearfishing helps and just learn your breathing, which is great. I think that’s important, just learn your breathing. And as my father told me when I used to ring him up, and say Dad how could you ever dive off the front of North Head, that’s a long way. And he used to say a five-letter word: relax. Relax. It took me fifteen years to understand what that word meant. Relax. And that’s just the key thing. That’s probably my best advice: relax.
Shrek: Some days it’s hard too, isn’t it? If a piece of your gear is out of line, sometimes I find it very hard to relax or you get a couple of combinations of factors like dirty water, or swell or something like that. And it’s harder when you’re starting out too isn’t it?
Simon: Yeah, you’re right, mate. When I started, I had a lot of self-belief issues when I was a kid. Just not strong enough, I kept coming up with excuses, trouble socializing, terribly shy, I was always seasick when I went out in the boat.
Turbo: And you persevered?
Simon: Yeah, I did. Call me a fool, but I did.
Turbo: Just a quick question, Simon. I suffer from seasickness terribly, I mean really bad. Besides seasick pills, is there anything I can do?
Simon: Yeah, I got told a good cure the other day. And that was to sit under a tree… It’s just something mate, I knew I had finally conquered it whenI was coming back on the rocky ship Booby Bird from a Coral Sea trip. There were 22 of us or something. There were only three blokes playing cards with me and they were all professional level abalone divers so I kind of looked around as I was sipping on my rum and ice and I said, you know what, I don’t get seasick anymore. I was pretty stoked with that.
Turbo: I’m a scurvy seadog now.
Simon: It’s just time on the water.
Turbo: I’ll start playing cards and drinking rum next time I go out.
Simon: Yeah just get in the water as soon as you can. Have your gear on, your mask around your neck, and everything. As soon as the boat pulls up, if your mate’s understanding, just jump straight in and just swim. You don’t get sick in the water.
Turbo: Ok sweet I love getting in straight away, that’s a good excuse.
Simon: Yeah good call.
Shrek: Alright, so from your fast five facts, I got;
- Get good gear, take advice, find a good retailer, reputable retailer.
- Number two was again find good advice and join a club, or find a good mentor find a good community to get involved in a learn the ropes, and don’t be a dickhead.
- Number three was do a course with a reputable mob, or a reputable person
- Number four was learn your breathing, get that right and
- Number five was just relax. And like you sort of suggested, you learn more and more about relaxing as you go on.
Simon: You do mate, I just had so many fears, you know, sharks. When I was diving as a young bloke mate, you swam by yourself a lot. You jumped in the water with two blokes but you never saw them or rarely did. My best buddy now, he’s still my best mate, he lives in Coffs. It’s funny we go out, we dive, we dive with other blokes, we buddy up because it’s just the safer thing to do. But years ago, we’d find each other in the same location, you’d just have the same instinct, you’d be at the same drop off. And you’d just look at each other and laugh and go what are you doing here, what are you doing here? You’d find the fish. It was always good fun diving with him. Yeah, that’s the fast five.
Shrek: And that’s five good bits of actionable advice for our audience. The other big part of the show is the Veteran’s Vault, it’s where we ask an expert authority to take us deep into an area of passion or expertise they wanted to talk about. What did you want to discuss today with our audience? Simon?
Simon: I think when I started to do my free-diving instructor’s certificate with Erez Beatus who’s actually here in Australia, I was a spearfisherman and had been diving for 25 years or something and my mate Andrew Harvey had been diving for 20 years. We wanted to do it for ethics. That’s why we wanted a ticket so we could be accredited, and be able to have insurance. We just talked ethics to blokes, like don’t shoot blue grouper, this is new law, you can’t shoot them. Don’t shoot over your bag limit of mowies, just take what you need. That type of stuff. And the funny thing was that Eres was on the Gold coast, and we were in Sydney. And it took us about eight months to get the full ticket. We had to take A, B, C courses and do an instructor’s course and it cost us a fortune, but thats besides the point.
After 20 minutes with him we were kicking each other under the table, and going, man is that why we’re doing that? Man is that why I feel like that in the water? Or is that why I’m struggling at times? Yeah, and in that eight months we had three young blokes die from blackout and this had never occurred really, I only knew of one guy who had blacked out before in a swimming pool. He was training by himself. And I think the first three deaths, two were from swimming pools. And one was from some young bloke off the Sunny coast in 14 meters of water diving with two or three other mates. And it’s gone on from there. So black out is what I want to talk about. And not so much black out, but resting on the surface and understanding your breath and listening to your body and understanding symptoms. It’s been a big issue.
There’s been over 20 guys pass away in the last seven or eight years. I stopped keeping records at 18 because I just got too upset with it all. And every one of these guys, these young guys, these fit young blokes, would have been alive today if they’d dived with a partner watching him.
And then the second thing is, not just a partner, there’s no point diving 15 meters if your partner can only dive 5. Because what’s he going to do? dive 5 meters and shoot you in the leg? Take a long shot and try and pull you up? That has occurred overseas, and the guy’s the lucky to be alive with what’s happened to him. He was resuscitated and came back. But I know for a fact that if you get nervous and upset, half of your dive time goes straight away, because you’re not relaxed, you are tense. So if you find a mate five minutes later, he’s lying on the bottom, you’re going to struggle to get down there sometimes. I’m not saying that for everyone
There’s a lucky fellow from Victoria found in Eden in June preparing for the big competition they had down there. Some diver who they were diving with, the boat happened to swimming past, finds him on the bottom. I think he was down there for two or three minutes. At eleven meters, fourteen meters, I’m not sure of the depth. But he was resuscitated. He was out for a long time, many, many minutes. I can’t be sure of the exact amount. He is lucky. He’ll never win lotto, because he’s used up all his luck. So dive with a partner, dive with someone who is at least as good as you, and if he’s not, only dive to what your partner is comfortable diving at. It’s a big thing
And some people in remote parts of Australia will scoff at me, but use a rig cord and a float. In Sydney, you can’t afford not to. You’ll get knocked over by a boat. I’ve had two mates hit by boats, both horrible accidents. It’s a life-changing thing, not just for you, but your whole family. And need I say more about the blackout, but the key thing is about blackout, is to be aware of what hyperventilation is. 80% of my students do it. When I ask the question, what is hyperventilation? give me a practical demonstration of the breathing, or I may ask, how do you breath up before you go off for a dive? 80% of them are hyperventilating. And the few that don’t have been told by a good mentor about what proper breathing is. So find out what proper breathing is, and it’s so easy to get into the trick of hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is anything that’s above and beyond your normal breathing. You’re sitting down now breathing, basically.
Shrek: Now before the show, you were sort of sharing your alarm with the sheer volume of information that’s available online, there’s YouTube videos and Vimeo videos about how to breath up, and a lot of the information is wrong. Some of it’s okay, but ideally, would you recommend people sort of learning breathing training at a live event with someone who can say yay or nay you’re doing the right thing, or you’re not?
Simon: Oh, wholly and solely, I really do. And I’m not being biased because I run courses. I don’t run freediving courses, I run spearfishing only because that’s my passion, but wholly and solely, I think that’s important. Too many people say, if you dive at your 50% you’ll be fine, but your 50% differs every day. If you’re like me, after a big night at the Casino, you’re hungover, your 50% is 10% of what you normally do, yeah? So you can’t push yourself. People call spearfishing an extreme sport, I argue that it’s not an extreme sport. Because in extreme sports, you have parachutes, knee guards, helmets, all safety equipment. In spearfishing, the only safety equipment you’ve got, it’s not your dive watch, it’s not your bloody dive watch. It’s your partner. So that’s the thing, so of course it’s good having someone who knows what they’re talking about and can sit down and explain it to you, it’s important. I cringe at some of the stuff I see at YouTube, I cringe at some of the stuff I hear on Facebook and advice that’s given. I’ve quite often privately messaged those people and gone, listen this is how it really is, call me, I’d be happy to talk to you.
Shrek: Yeah, I was looking around the other day for some good video content to put on our website to help with a get starting spearfishing guide. And what alarmed me was that I watched a how to get started spearfishing video and this guy dives down to about 35 meters, lies on the bottom for about a minute and a half, and about three minutes into the video, this is a how to video, I’m thinking, even the experienced guys I know don’t dive like this and never ever in a million years would you recommend this videos to guys just starting out so that scared me a bit.
Simon: There are two or three divers now that come to my mind that take were taking guys out because they’re phenomenal athletes, and expecting their mates to do the same. Everyone is physiologically different. So what some can do and say follow me, this is what I do. They can’t do it, because they’re makeup of their body is different. Pippin Ferraris was a classic example of that, and the guys that trained with him, they couldn’t do what he could do. Guys that come to me that come to a course and say I can hold my breath for three minutes. And I get them in the pool, I go through a fantastic breathing routine with them over several breath holds, in a pool doing static. And they do half of their breath hold. And it’s because they’re not relaxed, they’re stressed. And they say, I want to do it again. And I say, you won’t do half of that again and quite often they don’t. And they say well this is how I do it, this is how I’ve always done it. It’s just they don’t want to listen to the advice. And I’m coming back to that. Other guys they say they can hold their breath for a minute, I’ve got them holding it for five minutes in the pool. But then the next day, when I’ve got them in the ocean, open ocean, that’s choppy, that’s 18 degrees, not 32 degrees in the heated pool, current, everything else. Those guys that hold it for five minutes and that guy who normally holds it for three, first up, it takes them half a dozen, ten dives to get comfortable and relaxed. And they’re never going to hold their breath that long, they’re luck to hold their breath for a minute and a half. I normally don’t let them hold their breath that long. It’s about responsibility as well you’ve got to these guys.
Shrek: This brings us kind of neatly to the end of the interview Simon, so thank you we’ve got a lot of value so far. I wanted to give you the opportunity to give your courses a bit of a punt. I know you didn’t request it or anything like that, but I think there’d be a lot of value in that for our audience. So how often do you run the spearfishing workshops and where abouts do you do them?
Simon: I really only do them in Sydney or within a couple hours drive from Sydney. I’ve had boys fly in and out to come and do them, and everyone’s happy with them. I’ll give myself a rap there. And Andrew. Andrew would be one of my partners and if he’s not number one, he’d be number two for fish speared over 30kgs in the country. He’d probably give old Barry Paxman a run I’d say. He’s pretty damn good on big fish. And so his knowledge alone is phenomenal.
Turbo: How big a group do you need to kick off one of your workshops?
Simon: Four divers, one instructor. And if Andrew and I do it together, eight max. And we don’t prescribe to any more than that. And we tailor it if you’re a newbie, whether I’ve got newbies and very experienced guys, we can work around with the four blokes and give them different routines and exercises in the water and out of the pool as well. Theory is one day, day two is practical. We call it the Australian Spearfishing Academy. If you don’t want to come to Sydney, and if you’re in other states of Australia, Erez Beatus is the principal instructor and diver, and he is phenomenal. I can’t speak highly enough of him. As a free-diver and as a bloke. You’ll see him a fair bit in Tonga, half the year these days, he’s spoiled. Taking people over there and diving with whales, etc. He’s a spearfisherman at heart as well as a former freediving world record holder. He’s very, very knowledgeable. You can track him down as he travels all over Australia. He’s based in Sydney at the moment, he’s a bit of a gypsy, travels all around Australia.
Shrek: Fantastic, so that just about wraps it up Simon. Thanks so much for coming and talking to us. You have given us lots of a information and offered huge value for our audience. Anything else you want to add?
Simon: No, just relax guys! I’ve enjoyed it a lot, I didn’t know what to expect, and I’d love to come up your way or if you’re ever down in Sydney, have a dive with me. Have a dive with you blokes and have a bit of fun. It’s all about fun at the end of the day.
Shrek: Anymore parting kiwi jokes or anything before you go? Don’t want to make anymore comments about Queensland as footballers or anything?
Simon: Aw, mate, I can’t afford to be cheeky to kiwis. You’re too good at rugby. When I was over there for the nationals, we were cheeky because we were winning everything. But that was a long time ago. I’ll leave you guys with one more ah, how do New Zealanders find sheep in long grass?
Shrek: Go on.
Turbo: Go on.
Simon: Absolutely delightful.
Shrek: Hahaha alright, well thanks Simon.
Simon: Cheers, lads. Thanks heaps.