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Sport Fishing

THE UK’s FIRST EVER WOMEN’S SPEARFISHING EVENT! 

XTRATUF | March 8, 2024

Katy Davidson, aka ‘The Oyster Lady’ is an oyster pro, free diver and host of the UK’s first ever Women’s Spearfishing Event. XTRATUF® teamed up with Katy to provide the ladies with footwear to continue their adventures above the water!

competetors entering water in their fishing gear

Although I’ve spent a lifetime diving deep in to food, travel and adventure; from fishing tournaments in the Grenadines and Trinidad to commercial line fishing in Antigua; I was deterred from diving deeper, thanks to ominous warnings from Doctors about my ‘dysfunctional eustachian tubes’. Spearfishing was summarily off the cards apparently. This hurt, I saw myself as part-piscine, I identified deeply with amphibious evolution theory. Why were my ears not gills?!

A bizarrely random encounter with a fundraising team from the army at the Southampton Boat Show, where I was hosting an oyster festival, got me past this belief when they invited me to take a stint cycling underwater in their converted shipping container, in scuba gear.

This experience combined with talking with knowledgeable spearfishers who told me that many fish could be caught in shallow water, had me taking the plunge.

Competetors putting on their gear.

Even before I got a gun, I was delighting in hand harvesting lobster, crab, urchins and crayfish on a single breath (well sometimes two if I’m honest). I couldn’t believe the underwater bounty that was available to me with a shift of mammalian dive reflex and neoprene.

All I could think was, why didn’t I do this years ago!

It’s still a very niche sport, particularly in the UK, where recently I saw a woman calling the police on a lost (unloaded) speargun on the beach in fear of nefarious activity.

It’s also a rather male dominated sport, which is what I found as soon as I got more involved. I loved diving with guys, but I wanted to share this experience with women too. It took a year before I got to dive with another female and she had to come all the way from California! I’m known for attempting culture change as a habit and a business format; I was responsible for a huge amount of eyes on the oyster industry in the UK when I decided that everyone should get access to these sustainable and nutritious protein bombs of primordial ocean, campaigning for years and engaging through events such as London Oyster Week. So I decided to try and do something similar with spearfishing for women.

Xtratuf Boots and spear fishing gear with competetors stadning around the table

I knew lots of women felt intimidated to get involved both because of the nature of the sport itself and the lack of female community, so I thought the best way to inspire would be to get a group of women to host a group of women in a collaborative ‘Spearfishing Taster Day’ for women

Two competetors standing in xtratuf boots talking to one another

A literal opportunity to dip their toes in the sport, without any pressure and within the framework of a fun and supportive event – with a lobster and oyster BBQ at the end of it, because food & fire are universal hubs of social bonding.

We brought together great team members; Joy my California spearfishing gal pal came back to help and we collaborated with local, national and international, mostly women led, businesses to bring a very special day together. We were blessed with sunshine in an otherwise insipid summer and the excitement of introducing women to a sport, that not only feeds us sustainably but opens our eyes to another dimension of our planet in a truly unique way, was a wonderful experience.

Two competetors treading water with gear on

With spearfishing relying on the skill of freediving, the multiplicity of benefits from this sport are more than the sum of its parts. Like a seal, on land, we’re clumsy heavy and absurd, let us slip under the watery veil and we transform – hydrodynamic, microgravitational, almost amphibious… The inherent mind over matter necessary to deep dive on a single breath, makes us feel superhuman. It enables us to be in the moment like no other sport, in fact, it forces us to be, because if we’re not, that’s when things can go wrong.

Competetor in the water looking at camera

The joy of seeing women come together and reciprocate guilessly and be inspired by each other to make their lives sustainable, self-sufficient and deeply connected to our earth, was the inspiration for my business that launched with this event; and we plan to do much more. Already with this and a Deerstalking Taster Day for women under our belts, we’ve already scheduled the next Spearfishing Day – and you never know, we may even invite the boys!

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