Day 5 – Sled, sled and nothing but the sled

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In association with Performance FreeDiving International

Today is our first real chance to put the whole sled and counter balance system to work and we’re excited. Unfortunately the cold front doesn’t agree with our plans and we’re forced to postpone till the afternoon instead of the morning training session as scheduled.

By 12:00 noon we leave West Bay dock to pick up a wall mooring next to the Cayman Aggressor. While Spencer and I get the counter balance arm reinstalled, Danny lets out 92m / 300ft of line so we hang farther off the wall. Martin and Doc get the 40m warm-up line together and are soon in the water starting their warm-ups.

Within 45 minutes the sled is in the water supported by the arm. The 30m / 99ft target depth is set, for what is going to be Martin’s first official variable ballast dive. Thirty meters is a good start. It’s really just to make the recovery easier for the crew and to test the ergonomics and speed of the sled with 14kgs / 30lbs of additional weight supported in the fin bucket.

After a short breathe-up Martin releases the snap-shackle and is off. The first 30m / 99ft drop is a success and next up is Doc. In short order we retrieve the sled and adjust the depth to 20m. Soon Doc is taking his last breath for his first ever plunge in the discipline of variable ballast. Big smiles from Doc, clearly this is a form of freediving that gives new meaning to the words fun and excitement.

After another two dives each on the sled, Martin hits 40m / 132ft and then 55m / 180ft with an average descent speed of 1.4m/s / 4.6ft/s being reached on his last dive. Further descents, practices and adjustments will fine tune the amount of ballast. As it stands, it should take Martin only 97 seconds to reach a new world record depth. That timing doesn’t take into account the acceleration of the descent which will be increased by the compression of his suit and lungs. The ascent will be another beast to tackle.

Doc’s last two dives are to 30m / 99ft and he’s ecstatic with his first experiences in variable ballast. Tomorrow he’ll see another drop to 30m / 99ft and then step incrementally to 35m / 115ft. The plan is to practice in small, measured increments of depth. Each day’s training will support the next and in eighteen days everyone will be golden.

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