The team chosen to represent South Africa consisting of Jacques Malherbe, Cara Cowan, Wimpie Barnard, Andrew Narainsamy, Brian Mcfarlane, Dino Meneses (Anglers), Riyadh Cassim (Manager) and Eben Swanepoel (Coach) was selected from the national championships held in 2019 already, but sadly due to Covid unexpectedly coming on to the scene in March of 2020, but a week and a half before we were set to fly out to Portugal to compete, the Shore Angling World Championships were postponed. After a rough ride and a few further postponements finally all lined up for us to go-ahead this year from 13th to 20th November 2021.
Being my first experience going overseas I was both nervous and excited at the same time. I knew that my experiences and knowledge gathered here in SA would count for very little fishing the Mediterranean and wanted to watch and learn all I could from our world-class guides in Josè Alfonso and Helder Fernandes, both locals and experts in the facet. We decided that as a team we would go a week earlier in order to get as much practice in before the World Championships. We would be based at the Aqualuz Suite Hotel, Trio, Grandola along with all the other competing nations and the beaches chosen to fish during the world championships would be Soltroia beach, Carvalhal Beach, Comporta Beach and Pego Beach, each with their own unique challenges, formation and species to produce best results.
Touching down in Lisbon International Airport on the 8th of November after many hours of flying and hearts filled with anticipation, we slowly made our way to the hotel and got to see some of Portugal first-hand as we drove through the country. We settled in and unpacked at the hotel and got ready for the next day’s meetings and trace making sessions to prepare us for the World Championships. After many tireless hours of preparation, we would finally got a taste of the beaches in the coming days through the training sessions had. Picturesque blue seas, unspoilt sandy white beaches and perfect sunny weather greeted us. Small neat baits, light lines, precise traces and long casts were the order of the day going forward and we all had to quickly adapt accordingly in order to be successful, but under the guidance of our local experts, we adapted fairly quickly and were in good hands. At the end of the day we weren’t there on holiday or as tourists to take in sights or have a good relaxing time, but rather to best represent our country and were willing to do what was required to win. After a mind blowing opening ceremony parading through the streets of Portugal behind our flag the seriousness of what lay before started to sink in and nothing can quite prepare you for it. I would now finally get a taste of what it’s like to compete with the world’s best in Shore Angling. First the official training day much like an official Championship day, but a lot more casual as all countries don’t want to show their hand too soon, as the points don’t count toward your final score over the 4 competition days to follow. We managed a 4th overall for the day and were quite satisfied with that. Now the hard work began. And so the following day the first official competition day rolled on and the intensity, tempo and work rate tripled as everyone was giving their all for their respective countries gunning for the gold. Team SA was quickly out the blocks and after the final whistle were rewarded with top spot on the day for their efforts, closely followed by, France and Spain.
“WITH A FEW STERN WORDS AND ADDITIONAL TEACHING AND WISDOM FROM OUR GUIDES WE GOT OUR HEADS RIGHT AND WERE READY TO FINISH STRONG”
Second competition day we all put in the same efforts, but sadly it wasn’t a great day had by team SA taking a 5 th position on the day and our lead from being no 1 overall was surrendered to Spain with SA close on their heels in second overall. With the teams heads dropping a bit after a disappointing day we quickly needed to pull together and get our heads right in order to turn things around and fast. With a few stern words and additional teaching and wisdom from our guides we got our heads right and were ready to finish strong, as only half the work was done.
Third competition day, we had a clear idea of exactly what was required and put it into practice and after the final hooter of day 3 managed a 3 rd for the day, but unfortunately it was simply not good enough to hold on to our second position overall as we again surrendered another position on the overall rankings dropping to third behind France being no 1 and Spain no 2. We are South Africans and no strangers to overcoming adversity and to make a comeback would be no different.
Final day and as we quietly prepared we knew we needed to give everything we had leaving it all on the field of battle and we managed to do just that from first cast to last making every second count overcoming the odds and not only winning the day, but finishing so strong we knocked France into 2nd and Spain into 3 rd overall taking the gold and World Champion status. Not only that but as pairs Jacques Malherbe/Cara Cowan were winners overall as a pair making them double World Champions, Andrew Narainsamy/Wimpie Barnard finishing 3 rd overall as a pair taking bronze and Dino Meneses/Brian Mcfarlane finishing 10th overall. The overwhelming joy at the prize giving of what we had just achieved was unreal. The feeling indescribable. All the hard work and sacrifices had paid dividends, but such an achievement could not have been attained were it not for our management, guides and anglers’ commitment and efforts. It was an honour to be part of something so special never achieved by a SA Shore Angling team before.
As this is not a professional sport we have to pay out of our own pocket after selection. We are thus asking should you be willing and able to contribute financially towards our World Champion SA pairs team who will be participating again in France next year May and needing to pay around R50 000 per angler, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.