"The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." - Norman Schwarzkopf
Scouting is such an important part of these competitions. That doesn't just include time in the water. Boats must be reserved, houses must be booked, and connections must be made. Any advantage that can be had is a must to even think about being competitive.
Think of the best diver you know. The guy who scouts twice as long as anyone else for every competition. The guy people hate to compete against. There will be 75 of those guys here next year competing against Team USA. Our competition will include the famous Spanish divers that will arrive with a well funded team of 15 or more all working together. The local favorite Jody Lott who previously won in Spain and has spent his entire life commercial spearing in the tournament zone. Guys like Dwane Herbert, 8 time NZ national champ and two time Australian champ, who are more than comfortable in the cold rough waters we will encounter in Portugal. The career Greek team who have been competing longer than I've been alive. The current World Champion George Vassilou of Cyprus who will no doubt be looking to defend his title. The Croatian Danial Gospic, former world champ and fresh off a EuroAfrican victory.
The caliber of divers we are hunting against is immense. Any advantage is not just welcome but necessary. The only way to have a chance is to explore deeper and scout harder than the competition. Then on tournament day capitalize on every opportunity and have a bit of luck. The World Championship is not made for the average diver. It isn't fun here. The water is cold and rough and the fish are small with names you've never heard of. Not what any of us would choose for a spearfishing holiday.
So what do I do one year ahead alone in a country where I know no one? Every morning I wake up from the local hostel and wander the marina begging for affordable boat rides. Asking restaurants where their fish come from, dive shops who the local spearos are. Anything to get a connection and not have to ride my bike with a 7 mm suit and 20 lbs of lead to shore dive again.