Day 31 – Two out of three ain't bad

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In association with Performance FreeDiving International

Well it was another one of those days. After sacrificing a 50lb weight and a lift bag to the ocean gods yesterday, we figured that they would give us a good day today. Unfortunately though it was not to be.

After a bit of a late start we had the sled and weights in the water and ready to go. We set up while tied to a float and then went out into the blue water to set the lines down and just drift. That gave us perfect conditions for diving with no current and no waves. The lineup for today was Doc at 61 metres, Mandy at 115 metres and Martin at 136 metres. All Variable Ballast.

Doc dove first with an attempt to 61m but jumped off at about 46m. Things just didn’t feel right for him.

Mandy’s dive was next with a Canadian record attempt to 115 metres. Since today’s dive was shy of the world record target, the judges did not already have a mark on the line for that specific attempt so it took a while to interpolate the depth. After the five minute countdown, Mandy was on her way into the abyss. A minute after that, we felt her sled touch bottom and half a minute later Kirk was on his way to meet her, followed by me ten seconds after Kirk. The timing was perfect and Kirk met Mandy just a little deeper than 30 metres, followed by me at 25 metres. This was not a good dive for Mandy though and she shook her head side to side to signal us bring her up. Kirk and I each grabbed a shoulder and powered her to the surface. Mandy surfaced conscious, took four breaths, went out for a few seconds and woke up coughing. After a few minutes on oxygen at the back of the boat, however, Mandy was looking and sounding much better. But that was it for Mandy this week; no retry tomorrow.

The object lesson of the day was that you can’t push the sled disciplines too fast. The other disciplines left Mandy with too few sled attempts to work her way down to world record depths in a nice gradual fashion.

Once back on shore, Mandy told me she was thinking of a Meatloaf song: Two out of Three Ain’t Bad. And its true! Mandy has successfully made two of her three world record attempts this week and overall, the PFI team has made four of the six planned records so far with a possible fifth. In fact, Mandy and Martin now hold the world records for all of the self-propelled depth disciplines: Constant Ballast with Fins, Constant Ballast without Fins and Free Immersion.

However, back on the water, things are quickly going south on us. The boat is drifting out of the lee of the island and the seas and wind are picking up on us. The lift bag that Derek has attached to the sled to bring it up after Mandy’s dive breaks off the D-ring that it is attached to. The lift bag ascends uncontrolled and explodes right in front of me just as it reaches the surface. Below us, Derek and Sebastian struggle to prevent the sled from sinking back down to the bottom and attach lift bags to the remaining D-ring.

Kirk, Martin and everyone around quickly come to a consensus that things aren’t settled enough to attempt Martin’s dive. We cancel his dive for today and set about to recover the lines and weights with the remaining lift bags at our disposal. The sea gods are happy with today’s sacrifices though and things go well from here on. Aaron Parker, who has arrived from Peter’s neck of the woods a few days ago has done an excellent job of filling Peter’s big shoes. He takes all of the tanks, weights and lines that we pass up to him with a smile. Danny makes a quick scuba dive to lift the remainder of the deeper lines we have left in the water. When we’re all my done, my dive computer shows that I’ve made 66 descents.

We had a team meeting at 5pm today. The top priority by far is Martin’s 136 metre Variable Ballast dive. If all goes well we’ll give Doc one more chance at 61 metres. We have one more day of record attempts and we’re all looking forward to the wrap-up party tomorrow evening.

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