One Breath, One Drop, and One Shot
An advocate of sustainable spearfishing and winner of multiple spearfishing championships, Patagonia ambassador Kimi Werner takes us through her spearfishing routine and insights to her life and art.
Kimi Werner is a modern day renaissance woman. At 30 years old she’s a chef, model, artist and freedive spearfisher. What is freedive spearfishing? It’s like spot and stalk hunting with a bow, except you’re underwater. The sport is called freediving because it’s just you and the fish, no help from an air tank.
A typical outing with Kimi goes something like this: First she paddles out in a kayak, sometimes a few miles, to her hunting spot. Then she swims along the surface scanning the bottom for fish or likely habitat. Once she sees something that looks promising, she’ll start a long, slow dive. Usually she’ll swim down 70 feet and hold her breath for 2 to 4 minutes. The deepest Kimi has ever gone is 159 feet. When she gets to the bottom, Kimi will find a large rock or hill to hide behind and wait for fish to swim into range. The trick is to stay calm and move slowly.
Once you find what you’re looking for you have to go slow … it’s a peaceful, nice feeling and you just want to be really relaxed.
Getting into this zen-like state does two things: it helps you hold your breath longer and keeps the fish from getting spooked.When the right fish swims into range Kimi takes her shot and then heads back up to the surface. She spearfishes for the thrill of the hunt, to spend time with good friends, and of course, for the fresh seafood.
Catching your own food gives you so much more respect for the animal … you’re honoring the fish.
Kimi got started spearfishing as a little girl with her dad. Growing up on Maui, her family didn’t have a lot of money, but her dad always kept them well-fed by spearfishing. Kimi would tag along on a boogie board and watch her dad dive.
Spearfishing became on of my favorite ways to spend time with my dad
Eventually Kimi grew up and through the craziness of high school and college she fell out of spearfishing. When her life settled down she realized something was missing … it was time to get back into the sport. Kimi doesn’t compete often, but she still spearfishes all the time. Like anything in the ocean, freedive spearfishing involves a certain amount of risk. Rough waters, sharks and accidental blackouts are the main concerns. Of the three, blackouts are the most dangerous. If you blackout freediving by yourself, you’re dead and it happens to a handful of divers each year. Kimi suggests always diving with a partner.