Pipin's People

Miami, August 22, 2002 -?? It was?? like a private gathering of friends and family.?? The IMAX film Ocean Men had already opened in major cities worldwide and has been playing for weeks to enthralled audiences from Barcelona to Boston, but last night, in Miami, it was the hometown gala for Pipin Ferreras.

This was a private screening, by invitation only, tout Miami in all its dazzling colors and styles, tuxedos to T-shirts, black to blonde, paying homage to our friend and neighbor in his triumph. Pipin, like most Miamians, has his roots somewhere else, but now he is ours.?? There he was, relaxed and happy, surrounded by his people.

We mingled in the Sunset Center IMAX theatre lobby, enjoying cocktails, popcorn and distinctly Cuban hors-d’ouvres.?? Director Bob Talbot had flown in from the West Coast, and many of his key crew members joined us as well. Pipin, a gentle giant in his modish?? evening wear,?? autographed posters and greeted his guests.?? He seemed to know every one of the hundreds of people who crowded the bar, spearing hors d’ouvres?? on?? trays circulated by the catering staff. Wide-eyed toddlers to sun-bronzed greybeards, everybody knew Pipin. This?? being Miami, after all, the evening had a decidedly Latin tone. One has to love it, from the ladies’ up-to-the-millisecond tropical fashions to the hybrid Spanglish language we all seem to speak here. Miami, baby !She is all you imagine, and more.

The film is, of course, incredible.?? Ocean Men has to be seen in an IMAX theatre to be fully appreciated, and is absolutely mandatory viewing for anyone with even the tiniest interest in the dive life.?? Umberto and Pipin are legends in our time. Go see it.

Our town, Miami, is arguably the freediving capital of the world. After the credits rolled and the house lights came up, I scanned the SRO audience as Pipin and Bob Talbot took questions. I was struck by the incredible diversity of these aquatic enthusiasts. Toddlers, teens,?? sleek yuppies and svelte yuppettes, plain old middle- agers like me,?? seniors?? – the ocean is part of the South Florida lifestyle. Everybody is connected to it in one way or another. Here in his home town,?? Pipin Ferreras is celebrated in the way that ballplayers are in other American cities, or downhill skiers in Europe.

As I rode home, basking in the afterglow of a truly special evening of friendship, community and unique cinema, I thought about all of the great people I’ve come to know in the freediving world. I wished that all of you could have been with us?? for the Miami opening of Ocean Men.?? We have come to freediving by many paths. We train and study this art in all sorts of ways. Controversy swirls and sometimes even rages around the pioneers and the competitors, but in the end we are in this together and?? should acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of the giants. In a very real sense it was the host of last night’s event who, building on the work of the founding generation,?? sired?? the reborn freediving community that came together for an evening in the Sunset Center.?? In a sense, all of us, all of today’s freedivers,?? are Pipin’s people.