Spearfishers aiming to beat world's best


Gliding into the blue is second nature for two mates from the Coromandel who've won six national spearfishing competitions together.

Dwayne Herbert and Julian Hansford have been spearfishing together for over a decade.

"What keeps it exciting is so many little things that make you freak out and get the adrenalin pumping," Hansford said.

"Like when the swells are big you get sucked into little holes or pushed up against a crack and you get jammed or you're trying to get some kina or paua out, and you turn around and there's a big shark in your face."

"We started competing because we were always in the water anyway and we started doing really well and beating the adults and stuff and we've been doing it ever since -- just love it," Herbert said.

Now instead of beating the adults, they want to beat the world's top professional spearfishers -- and although the Mediterranean water will be warmer, the fish are harder to catch, and much deeper.

"Diving for blue cod down here is like fish and chips really -- pretty easy -- whereas diving over there, it's going to be 40m plus looking for fish in holes that don't want to see you. They dont want to know you're there," Herbert said.

"They've been fishing in the Mediterranean for thousands of years so the fish over there are pretty clued on."

Working as paua and kina divers off Fiordland and Stewart Island, they usually have an advantage over other competitors -- but that won't be the case in Greece.

"There's no real sharks or current to deal with, its just deep hard diving with long breath holds which we're not really used to, we're used to harsh conditions, dirty water and current and rough," Hansford said.

Those four-minute breath-holds are teammate Dave Mullins' forte -- he's been within a couple of metres of the free-diving world record for about a decade.

And while he's in Greece, he wants to break it.

"I've got the NZ record of 125m, the world record's 128m, so any opportunity I get to have a go at that, I'm going to take it," Mullian said.

The team will head over a month early to get familiar with the currents, weather and fish behaviour -- knowledge they hope will give them the edge they need.

Help get the team to Greece by donating here.