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It is the new Italian Champion of spearfishing. A Pugliese with a normal life and an irrepressible intuition for fishing, a kind of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
Instinct and determination. Dedication and preparation. Nouns that in the highest form are best defined using the word: talent. Luigi Puretti for his second career in a row (the first in 2016 n.d.r.) is the Italian Spearfishing Champion. He triumphed with 21 preys for a total of 24,405 points in the absolutes that took place in Sicily.
During the day he works in the family construction company, but when he wears wetsuits, masks, flippers, a snorkel and, of course, takes up his rifle to plunge into the water, the ancestral call to the survival instinct immediately turns him into a serial hunter, a hunter serial. His is a kind of double personality that would have also been liked by Louis Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
A victory in 2016, the second in 2019. Which was the most beautiful?
This time it was completely different from the first. In 2016 in Castelsardo I realized that I would win, I didn’t imagine it here. I found the title in my pocket without having built it that much. Of course, I knew I had fished well, but I didn’t understand how much compared to the other athletes. I had left for Sicily with the aim of staying in the top 15 and trying again in the coming years, and instead ended up with a victory. Now I begin to realize what happened. I’m realizing that in the water I struggled with determination, but also that I lived everything with great serenity. I built the victory quietly, fish after fish, and in the end I found myself on the top step of the podium. It was great.
Who did you make the first call for?
I did it to my father Antonio. Unfortunately, just as I was in the water my beloved uncle lost his life … We were very close, and for this I dedicate the victory to him. It’s the best way to thank him for everything he has done for me.
Did you train a lot?
Less than two months ago I had a nasal septum surgery. I spent a month without going into the water. Few and difficult days of real training after the operation, and I had to leave for the absolutes. So I would say that I faced the races without proper training.
In the days before I was very undecided. I even thought of retiring. Then thanks to the support of friends and above all of my boatman Franco Calabrese who had a fundamental role in this victory, I convinced myself that I had to try despite not being in an optimal physical condition. That’s why I consider this result the most beautiful of all.
Who formed you in these years?
Marco Bardi certainly. Since he retired from competitive fishing he has not lost an absolute. From him I learned a lot especially at the beginning of my career, both during the preparation and in the analysis of the results. Marco is a fundamental figure for our entire Omer team. An irreplaceable reference point.
How much luck and how much strategy do you have in your approach to fishing?
Without a doubt 90% of the result depends on the strategy. That is, from the way I dive and chase the fish. I go to a certain point because I know I can find it. Luck? Of course it also serves that, but it only accounts for 10%.
What do you think when you’re in the water?
At the moment when I dive I am alienated from everything. Instinct prevails in me rather than reason and the only thing I think about is looking for fish. I like to compare myself to hunting dogs, who know how to be docile and companion animals, but when they go out for a hunt their personality suddenly changes and their instinct turns them into something else. Out of the water I’m not one of those who spend 24 hours talking about apnea. I like to do something else and I don’t go too much to other fishermen, then in the end the topic always becomes the same. I care about having the instinct and the desire to fish. And they arrive as soon as I put on my wetsuit.
What do you do?
With my father and my beloved uncle, who recently passed away, we have a family-run construction company. This is fortunate because it allows me to manage my time well. But it wasn’t easy. At first my father didn’t want to accept my leaks at sea, we fought a lot. Then he understood my passion and dedication for this discipline and accepted it. Today he is my biggest fan. In fact it is he whom I called as soon as I won.
In addition to spearfishing what are your passions?
All my passions revolve around the sea. When the weather does not allow it, I go out with my boat and a few friends to go fishing with a rod. The sea exerts on me a call I cannot resist.
Do you spend a lot of time training?
I’m not a perfect athlete, one of those who sacrifices too much for the performance and I don’t train too much. When I’m out with friends, I never miss an extra beer. But I know and I know the importance for our discipline of dry training.
So how many days do you spend in the water?
I never counted them, but considering an average of 2 dives a week, which increase in the summer and multiplying it by 52 (the number of weeks a year n.d.r) the bill is soon made …
How old were you when you took part in the first championship?
At a competitive level, I entered the water at the age of 18 (Luigi was born in 1985, so let’s talk about 2003), but my first absolute was in 2009, exactly 10 years ago and right on the snake in Marsala. Today, exactly ten years after my first time, I won my absolute second. Mine was an irregular career. Due to work commitments I left the competitions: first for a course in the Naval Academy in the Navy as Complement Officer, I was stationed at the Port of the Maddalena, then because I worked abroad. A strange thing happens to me that I attribute to the strength of our mind. Even when I was still for many years, the day I dive again I immediately reactivate all the mechanisms and automatisms as if I had never stopped. Perhaps it is for this reason that after a fairly long period, in 2014 I returned to the races and two years later the absolute first came.
What are your next goals?
This victory gives me great motivation. I need to charge myself and prepare for next year’s championship that will take place in my land and in my sea: Puglia. This is why I decided that I will try to do the world championships. At this point, why not try?