The Day Before : Audrey Mestre at Bayahibe

Editor’s Note: Due to the terrible events that occured on Saturday 12th October, our continuing coverage will be on hold till more details are available. Please keep an eye on our news page for breaking news on this tregedy.

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic,?? October 11 , 2002 -?? The IAFD Team spent this morning in final preparations for Audrey Mestre’s attempt on the no-limits world record, scheduled for 12:00 noon tomorrow.

The sled cable to be used in tomorrow’s record dive was laid out along the main road into the town of Bayahibe, a straight??and level platform for the critical measuring and marking which is a key element in the authentication of a record depth.?? The surface end of the cable was put down in the town’s central square, and as I walked its length I passed by houses, shops and then found myself in the open countryside. It was a long walk. Pipin?? explained to me that he had added an additional 4 meters of cable beyond the 171 meter target depth marker as a precaution against currents or other uncontrollable factors that might cause the bottom plate to be raised. I reached the bottom end of the cable and turned to grab a photo of the entire length, but quickly understood that the cable was too long, the distance simply too great to represent in two dimensions.

Next, the team shuttled the sled out to the big sailing catamaran that will serve as the dive platform tomorrow. Reaching the dive site with GPS guidance, the team dropped anchor?? and rigged the sled on the big cat’s boom.?? Audrey suited up and was fitted with a state-of-the-art depth sensor device, another of the 3 concurrent authentication methods used by IAFD. The steel cable itself is subject to as much as 2% increase in length by stretching after deployment, but the sensor, with a resolution of better than 5 mm and a precision of +/- 5cm at depths of 200m, enables accurate correction for cable and sea surface perturbations. A clutch of conventional tek diving computers form the third layer of redundant measurement.

["Audrey_Dominican_Training_2" right]A total of 22 crew, spectators and world media then watched as Audrey and the team executed 2 practice drops to debug the equipment configuration. Everything worked perfectly.

The mood in the IAFD circle is subdued.?? A dive to this kind of depth is a complex undertaking?? involving boat, surface, mid-water and deep support people, each with a critical job to do. The months of planning, training and drill culminate in an event which lasts less than 3 minutes and requires total focus and perfect execution. Lives will be at stake.?? It seems to this observer that everything is a go, and that Audrey and her team are in a mood to make history.?? Stay tuned.