This is my family’s first time to Bonaire and it won’t be our last. Not as long as the dynamic duo Carlos and Gaby Coste continue hosting the Deepsea Challenge in Bonaire’s supremely blue, calm waters. Conditions in Bonaire are stellar as the leeward side of the island also boasts a protective blue bay. Sailboats line the downtown of Kralendijk, Bonaire’s main hub. Just behind the line of mooring balls is the reef and reaching out behind that, only meters away, the deep. I could throw a baseball to the platform setup from our perch at the Van der Valk Plaza Beach Resort, this year’s top sponsor of the event.
The official open of the competition was September 2nd. It was as most opening ceremonies are (except Estrella Navarro-Holm’s Big Blue….wow!). There were pictures with Deepsea banners, a parade through town and the obligatory “just a little too long” meeting discussing rules everyone knows but completely forgets during the meeting. You all know what I’m talking about. The vibe was uplifting. Already friends, the athletes and organization alike used the opportunity to commune and enjoy each others company.
The unofficial opening to the comp was the performance of Brazilian bombshell and super sweetheart, Carolina Schrappe. Having had a little lull in her depth diving Carolina reminded everyone that she is still very much in the game, setting an impressive national record in variable weight to 95m and with style of course! Carolina surfaced clean, smiling, and ready to share her new favorite recovery food with everyone…homemade (healthy) muffins. With a performance like that in our wake we looked ahead to a morning of statics.
Day 1: Static Day
I tried as hard as I could to make a pact with the other competing ladies, “I won’t do my Static (STA) if you won’t do yours!” Pleading and begging I hoped they shared my resentment for statics. Jeanine Grasmeijer of the Netherlands was on the level but Marina Kazankova of Russia and Liv Philip of the UK were a harder sell. Truthfully, we had Liv but the “ever so calm and sport psychology minded” Marina was not afraid. And it showed. She boasted the strongest static for women at 5:55, which was also the strongest static overall. The men ended with newbie Alexander Alvarado in the lead with a 5:21 static, a new national record and Puerto Rico on the board.
Day 2: Depth…Yippee!
Starting the day off was one of Spain’s finest, Alfredo Roen. I always pull hard for his countryman, Miguel Lozano but something about the awesome attitude of the Spanish team makes me question my allegience. At least for the next few days, I’m pulling for deep man Alfredo Roen who said this of his 98m dive today,
“Primer día de competición. Las condiciones en Bonaire inmejorables, 40m de visibilidad, sin viento, sin corriente, agua templada…. Una inmersión de -98m. Me sentí muy cómodo en toda la inmersión, muy tranquila. Me encanta la caída libre y como el agua corre por mi cara…. Un buen día para mí. Gracias a toda la organización y los ‘Safety’ por trabajo perfecto.”
In a Spanish speaking competition I think a Spanish quote is appropriate! Don’t worry – for those who don’t read Spanish see below:
“The first day of the competition. Excellent conditions in Bonaire, 40m visibility, no wind, no running, warm water …. -98m Free Immersion. I felt very comfortable throughout the dive, very quiet. I love the free fall and as the water runs down my face …. A good day for me. Thanks to the entire organization and the ‘Safety’ for perfect job.”
Legendary diver, Carlos Coste is the Father of South American freediving. Still pushing his limits he managed to set a continental record today with a Constant no Fins (CNF) dive to 69m. Easy down, easy up he followed the protocol to a “T”, earning his white card and a kiss from his lady. Coste then stuck around, trying on his other hats as coach and event organizer. All hats worn with equal grace. He said this (in English),
“I am happy! I’m improving my technique, and performance by 5m from my last official performance (64m VB 2014). I’m recovering my South American Record by 4m. But still I want to improve my speed and technique. I am now learning the importance of the different rhythms of movements during a CNF dive. This makes an important step forward.”
Alexander Alvarado has a lot to be proud of in just two days of diving. He has managed to put his country on the board earning a national record each day! Today with a Free Immersion (FIM) dive to 50m. Go Alex!
Pretty much all athletes left the platform with a good and salty taste in their mouths. Aurore Asso stretched her legs today with a CNF dive to 52m and looking strong. Bonaire is represented this year with a local competitor, Boy Roozendaal. Born in the Netherlands but bred in Bonaire. Good luck, Boy!
Stay tuned for Day 2…
All photos contributed by Kimmo Lahtinen and Denys Rylov