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CMAS World Championship of Underwater Photography 1994

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 53


The fifth World Championships of Underwater Photography took place in South Korea from 24 September 1994 to I October. Photographers from Australia, Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the U.S.A. assembled in Chejudo Island for the event.

Although Les Kemp and Mark Webster had been selected to represent Britain, Les had to withdraw at the last minute due to financial reasons.

The Committee agreed to approach Mike Wong, Martin Edge and Brian Pitkin (in that order) to ask if they would be willing to participate. Due to other commitments both Mike Wong and Martin Edge had to decline, so Brian Pitkin, with his wife Linda as model, joined Mark and Suzanne Webster in Korea to complete Britain's team.

The Korean Underwater Federation sponsored all photographers whilst in South Korea and offering reduced rates of $200 for each model. BSoUP paid the competition entrance fees and two models expenses whilst in South Korea. The BSAC also kindly donated £300 to offset a part of the cost of getting the team to flying the British team to Chejudo Island, South Korea.


Accommodation on Chejudo Island was provided by the Cheju Prince Hotel at Sogwipo on the south side of the island, about one hour's drive from Cheju airport. The climate was subtropical and extremely pleasant. The main crops on the south of the island appeared to be citrus and pineapple. The hotel stands on top of the cliffs overlooking the harbour and three small islands, which were to be the competition sites.

The first day of the event (Monday) was non-competitive. Photographers were allowed to dive with their cameras on two of the seven sites selected for the competition. The British team shared their boat with the Australian team comprising Lance Adrian with his model Vicki and team captain Graham and opted to dive two of the reputedly better sites. These exploratory dives were quite surprising. The marine life comprised an amazing contrast of kelp and tropical fish! There was plenty of macro life and lots of colourful soft corals and whip corals. The visibility was reasonably good at up to ten metres, although there was some plankton in evidence. There was an opportunity to have the exposed films processed that evening, and most competitors made the most of it.

That evening the international group of photographers, their models, team captains and the judges, organisers and sponsors were treated to a gala dinner party where circular dining tables had been set out on the lawn of the hotel. Following an excellent meal washed down with wine, numerous dignitaries made welcoming speeches and the judges were introduced. These comprised WALTER TICHY, KURT AMSLER (Switzerland), BARRY ANDREWARTHA (Australia), DAVID DOUBILET (U.S.A.), IN YOUNG KIM (Korea) and GORO TAKANO (Japan)


Day two and day one of the competition began in earnest. Sites had been selected by a draw, such that each photographer would dive on each site (or pair of sites) for 2 - 21/2 hours (depending on the site) twice, morning and afternoon. Each photographer had six rolls of film to expose over the three days of the event and had to submit two macro, two wide-angle and two creative shots at the end of the third day of the competition for judging. Each photographer and optional model was also provided with six cylinders of air (two each day) plus an emergency cylinder. A referee was appointed to each boat to ensure that the competition rules were not breached by any of the competitors. We (the British and the Australians) were extremely lucky to have Jong-Geel Je, a senior research scientist in the Biological Oceanography Division of the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute as their referee. A knowledgeable and very friendly marine biologist studying molluscs, Je made us all feel very welcome.

All of the boats used for the competition were fishing boats, normally part of the 100-strong squid fleet leaving port nightly. Ours was the largest and, so it was claimed by the proud skipper, the fastest in the fleet, having just a had a new engine fitted. There was ample room on deck for the two teams and their cameras and diving equipment.

At the end of the day exposed films were handed in for processing, one returned late that night, the other(s) early next morning, so their was plenty of time to see the results of our first day before committing ourselves on the second day.

The second day of the competition was, in contrast to the first two days, very poor. A typhoon had struck southern Japan and threatened to move across the East Sea to South Korea. The sky was a dull grey and the sea choppy. The scheduled dive sites were out the question. After several meetings of all the participants and some organisers, permission was finally given for the boats to leave harbour for a limited number of sheltered sites inshore. This reminded me of a breezy day at Plymouth! There were plenty of small fish to photograph but there was also plenty of plankton and silt in the water! Although films were handed in for processing, none of the competitors were optimistic about their results.

Day three of the competition was much better weather-wise. The scheduled sites were dived and the last of our frames exposed before returning to relax and await the return of the last rolls of processed film.


The closing dinner and awards ceremony was a grand affair, held once again on the hotel lawn. After a splendid buffet style meal, the two photographs in each of the three categories of the top ten photographers were shown in reverse order. Following the announcements, the winners were presented with their awards, and each of the remaining top ten photographers in each category presented with a certificate.

The World Champion was Frederic di Meglio from France, who won the Gold Medal in the Macro category, the Special Prize of the Jury in the Wide-angle category and Creative category. Second place went to Claudio Bertasini (Italy). The Italians won the Team category, with the French in second place. MARK WEBSTER achieved fifth place in the Creative Category and BRIAN PITKIN achieved fifth place in the Macro category.

The event was well organised and very enjoyable, with plenty of opportunity to meet and discuss underwater photography with the other competitors and judges.

Mark Webster and Brian Pitkin will be giving an illustrated talk on the World Championships at the December meeting of BSoUP. Duplicate slides of all the winning entries will be shown.



WORLD CHAMPIONS: Andrea Giulianini and Claudio Bertasini (Italy)
VICE CHAMPIONS: Marc Debatty and Fr6ddric di Meglio (France)
SPECIAL PRIZE: Vladimir Menchikov and Vladimir Goudzev (Russia)


WORLD CHAMPION: Frederic di Meglio (France)
VICE CHAMPION: Claudio Bertasini (Italy)


Gold Medal Frederic di Meglio (France); Silver Medal Sunghwan Lee (S. Korea); Bronze Medal Dieter Disch (Germany); Special Prize Xavier Safont (Spain) Brian Pitkin (Britain) Claudio Bertasini (Italy) Jose Luis Gonzales (Spain) Steve Rosenberg (U.S.A.) Leif G. Hjelm (Sweden) SunMyung Lee (S. Korea)


Gold Medal Claudio Bertasini (Italy); Silver Medal Jose Luis Gonzales (Spain); Bronze Medal Andrea Giulianini (Italy); Special Prize Frederic di Meglio Dieter Disch (Germany) SunMyung Lee (S. Korea) Vladimir Menchikov (Russia) Per Eide (Norway) Marc Debatty Xavier Safont (Spain)


Gold Medal Marc Debatty (France); Silver Medal Jose Luis Gonzales (Spain); Bronze Medal Alcides Falanghe (Brazil); Special Prize Frederic di Meglio (France) Mark Webster (Britain) Andrea Giulianini (Italy) Claudio Bertasini (Italy) Claus Kimmig (Germany) Philippe Luk (Hong Kong) SunMyung Lee (S. Korea)

Reproduced from in focus 53 (November 1994)

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