Freediving with Fernando | Part 2
Written by Tarquin Cooper
Photos by Predrag Vuckovic/Suunto
"If you love the ocean, go and try it," says world-class waterman Fernando Stalla.
He's talking about freediving. The art of holding your breath and exploring the underworlds of the sea. Fernando's an expert on the subject, and pairs his expertise with standup paddling. According to Fernando, freediving and spearfishing pair perfectly with SUP. His method: paddle out to a kelp paddy, over a reef or into a lagoon, hop in and start exploring.
"That's how I do it," he says. Between paddling, freediving, and spearfishing, Stalla's schedule is full. For spearfishing, he uses the board as a buoy and has a line back to it when he's underwater. Otherwise he loves to explore the coast, park his board and go for a dive. The Maldives, he says, were especially awesome for this.”
"In the Maldives the water is super clear and you have a lot of sea life and colors and beautiful animals. It's very entertaining to be underwater there. But the most amazing thing were the dolphins. While freediving they weren't so friendly but when I was on the board, I was paddling with the pack. That was amazing."
SUP is the perfect means for Stalla to enjoy the ocean. "The fact that you can do it anywhere in the world. I can go freediving on a paddleboard, go fishing, just paddle, take a friend or kid on the board, catch a wave, go explore. It's a great sport and prefect for my lifestyle – I'm very happy.”
Pro Tricks for Breath Control
Among the rare breed of humans who thrive more in water than on land, Will Trubridge is a multiple record breaking freediver who broke one depth record by diving 100 meters down without any assistance or artificial aids – including fins. Here, Turbidge and Stalla share their expert advice on the art of holding your breath.
"The most important things are breathing and relaxation," says Trubridge. "People think they can get more oxygen by breathing quicker. It's important to breathe passively, and be relaxed both beforehand and while you're in the water. By being relaxed you can store more oxygen in your tissue and blood. You consume less so you can stay down longer."
"Panicking is the opposite of what you want to do, as it uses so much oxygen. So resisting that urge to panic and training for that. If you held your breath in a training course for three minutes, a minute or two of which was fighting that urge to breath, then you're better equipped to deal with that in big surf," says Trubridge.
Exhale for longer
"Do a two-second inhale, followed by a four second exhale," says Stalla. "Do a few of those and if you feel relaxed take a deep breath and go down and enjoy. Professional freedivers will spend 20 minutes breathing to relax before a dive but just breathing for a few minutes beforehand will help."
Double your surface time
"Rest on the surface doubles the time you spend underwater," says Stalla. "So if you dive for one minute you should rest for two before you can go back down to prevent blackouts."
Use a watch alarm
"Alarms let me know I'm at a certain depth or when I've been underwater for a certain amount of time," says Trubridge. "But even for someone who's not as serious about the competitive side, a dive time alarm can be handy as well." Stalla is a fan of Suunto's D4. "It has made my dives safer and more fun and also shows all the cool information about each dive!"
More SUP spearfishing.