Reporting from Hawaii, Perry Gladstone – http://www.perrygladstone.com
After two days of competition between 19 countries, the Pacific Cup of Freediving is hitting its stride. Standings after the Constant Ballast event is as follows:
Thursday Oct. 31
Day One- Constant Ballast 70m –51m
Although the Constant Ballast practice days had their share of humps and bumps, perfect diving conditions set the scene for day one of competition and, once underway, things went extremely well.
33 competitors dove from the imposed 70m limit to 51m. A testament to the continuing progress of internationally competitive divers, only 5 disqualifications were registered, two of which were protested and won.
Guilliame Nery of France made his 70m dive look easy however a line violation at the plate rendered no points. Sweden’s Bill Stromberg also registered a line violation on his 66m dive, however after a protest and review, the attempt was deemed clean and awarded full points the next day.
Due to an organizational error, Phillipe Frolla of Monaco arrived at the boat only 28 minutes before his zero time and, without the benefit of a proper warm up, registered a black out attempting at 56 m dive. The ruling was protested on the grounds of his not getting the full 45 minutes to prepare and was won. Phillipe was given a second attempt following the Day 2 competitors, in which he achieved 50m for a total score of 45 (announced depth less one for no tag plus the difference of the actual dive).
Karoline Meyer of Brazil lost consciousness on ascent from 51m just above 15m. It had been reported that she had been experiencing similar difficulties in practice the day before. The safety divers on hand, although not at depth, did make a quick recovery and she was quickly brought around. Nicholas Sosa of Spain also registered a black out. The last of the difficult news was a score of 0 for Elon Aguiar of Brazil for not starting due to sinus problems.
Meantime the tropical waters and visibility to almost 30m, were the perfect setting for a personal best. Not wanting to let such an opportunity pass her by, two-time World Record holder Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, dove a perfect 65m giving her the honor of achieving the deepest women’s Constant Ballast dive in competition.
The accomplishment was not lost on the many onlookers and fellow divers who gave her an outstanding reception after her clearance from the judges.
Other notable moments from day one include; a 70m dive by World Record holder Martin Stepanik, (Czech Rep) in a pair of 8" swim fins (yes you heard me right) worn to accommodate an injured ankle, and successful 70m dives by Pierre Frolla (MON), Carlos Coste (VEN), Ronald Laurens (VEN), and Pradon (FR).
Day Two- Constant Ballast 50m –15m
Picking up where we left off, day two saw all remaining competitors’ dives.
Once again 5 disqualifications were registered; Sacha Dench (AUS) for not removing her mask in time, (this was later protested and won). Anouchka Mailleux (Belgium) for Loss of Motor control (LMC i.e. Samba), Morocco’s Ben Ayatahfid also LMC, and Russia’s Nadejda Ostrovskaya and Patricia DeWolfe of Belguim for ‘Touching the athlete’ before they are cleared by the judge.
By far the biggest applause of the day went to Canada’s newest team member Laurie Kindiak who, unable to equalize head down, made an incredible up and down, back and forth descent to 15m. More than one photographer was caught short of breath as Laurie (who has been a freediver for only one month) covered the time and distance of a dive at least twice that depth.
As reflected in the standings, the USA made a strong showing. This was emphasized by the brilliant performance of first-time competitor Britt Peltola who out-dove her teammates Tanya Streeter and Scott Cambell. Never one to be out-done however, Scott, after smiling for the bottom camera, arrived at the surface with his tag in his teeth.
Extra curricular activities
In addition to the competition, the Pacific Cup’s organizers have gone to great lengths to provide compelling and entertaining events for athletes and attendees. Last night we were witness to an amazing slide presentation entitled ‘OAMA’ (The great Ama) by local Japanese photographer Maki Sugahara. Sugahara ‘s moving presentation was followed by a wonderful appearance by his subject, 82 year old Ama diver Sueko Matsuoka.
Matsuoka, a commercial apnea diver for 60 years, still dives most days of the week to harvest oyster, abalone and seaweed up to 20m deep. In her younger years she dove up to 3 minutes and 30m. When asked how she is able to sustain such an incredible and taxing career she replied, " I loose about 2 kg every summer and gain it back again in the winter".
In addition to this we have also been treated to fascinating presentations on physiology by cutting edge international researchers and a behind the scenes look at the making of the IMAX film Ocean Men, hosted by the film’s Director Bob Talbot.
More to come
Competition resumes with Static Apnea on Sunday Nov.3rd and optional Dynamic Apnea Nov.4th in which individuals may enter for rankings but not team points. In the meantime we have a day of practice and are looking forward to tomorrow nights presentation by North American freediving pioneer Bob Croft.
As you can see by the current standings, the imposed limit of 70m has leveled the paying field somewhat, putting a huge emphasis on the coming Static event. This is sure to make for some exciting moments over the next few days.
Until then I will leave you with my favorite quotes of the week:
"That guy is extreme"
Multiple World Record freediver Herbert Nitsche on Eric Fattah’s legendary diving diets.
"I look after myself and don’t push to hard"
Sueko Matsuoka on being asked how she prepares for a dive, how she breaths up for a dive, how long she can hold her breath.