Today the wind died down a bit, on Long Island in the Bahamas. The sun was a bit warmer and the sand flies were out. But that did not prevent 14 of the #VB2016 competitors from having a white card kind of day. In fact out of 17 performances there was only one DNS, one yellow card and one tiny red card for a fixable/coachable surface-protocol infraction. Day 2 of Act One of Vertical Blue 2016 also welcomed five more record setting performances. The first record to fall was a Chinese record in constant no-fins (CNF) at 41 meters, executed one year ago by Jessea Lu in Cayman. Taking her training very seriously, Jessea put in the work and dropped her foot on the accelerator as she sailed down to 60 meters today in three minutes and :04 seconds.
“Pushing this dive as deep as I could, while maintaining a clean performance, was my goal for this year’s Vertical Blue” shared Jessea, “having accomplished what I wanted to, now I can just play!”
Luke Maillas of the Bahamas continued his initiation into the world of competitive freediving with a new national title in no-fins by completing a dive to 37 meters in a quick one minute and :33 seconds. Upon surfacing Luke quipped “I need to work on my technique!” but that being said, he is one of those rare and lucky people who can actually equalize hands-free! so we suspect his progression will be prompt.
Ryuzo Shinomiya of Japan and Stephane Tourreau of France continued to demonstrate what sheer elegance in the water looks — seemingly becoming one with the water molecules as they both fluidly dove to 96 meters — in free immersion and constant weight, respectively. The next diver, Hanako Hirose, may just be this year’s sleeper with another incredible and effervescent dive to 90 meters in a speedy two minutes and :52 seconds. There may be no more joyful or animated moment in this competition than when Hanako surfaces with contagious glee.
William Trubridge, the event organizer, made his first showing today with a substantial offering in no-fins, a beautiful & forceful dive to 90 meters, securing his gold medal in that category. And the technology gods smiled up Deans Blue Hole as well, with the new underwater drone, the X-Adventurer Freetracker diving in perfect unison alongside Trubridge, capturing his entire dive (video to follow!)
Sofia Gomez continued her strong run with a free immersion dive to 82 meters, securing herself both a Colombian and a continental record. Gleaming gold in her Oceaner suit, Kate Middleton overcame her nerves to receive a white card for a Kiwi record. “I was very nervous at the beginning”, Kate shared, “even though I was controlling my breathing in my warm-up, my nerves had my heart rate very high. But thankfully just a few kicks into the dive I felt the “oh yeah, this feels good” I was hoping for.”
Estrella Navarro Holm ended the day in abundance, with her 22nd national record for Mexico, and a new competition personal best . “Diving with the drone was nice; it felt like I had an extra safety diver down there with me, watching over me. I liked it!”
And Vertical Blue veteran and world-class photographer Igor Liberti dove for friendship. The kind-hearted & creative athlete is making all of his dives in tribute to Nic Mevoli.
“I am taking VB2016 dives slowly, I want to be in the water-column where Nic was. Today I dove to 52, I will proceed to 62 meters, and then I will finish at 72 meters – the depth Nic planned on.”
#VB2016 continue tomorrow with Day 3 – the close of Act One. The top times for what promises to be an exciting day.