The Deep, Deep, Deep Downunder Challenge

THE DEEP, DEEP, DEEP DOWNUNDER CHALLENGE

text and photography by Dave Moran

There was a buzz in the air, you could feel and see the excitement as divers and friends loaded their gear aboard Dive! Tutukaka’s El Tigre on Anzac morning. A chain lay out along the footpath stretching to over 60 metres; plastic tags fixed to the chain indicated the length beneath a large inflated inner-tube that the chain was fixed to. The tags started off at 10m and descended in 5m increments until the last tag boldly shouted 60m!

NZUA President Jeroen Jongejans and myself signed off the official form that verified that the chain and the fixed tags had been officially measured before being loaded on to El Tigre.

Fifteen minutes, the call went out, then 6-5-4-3-2-1-45 seconds -30- 15-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 —— Suzy Osler sucked in her final breath and gracefully descended parallel to the chain, adjacent to her was another chain where safety divers on scuba who, in their own way, gave her encouragement as she attempted to reach her target of 60m.

On the surface her fellow freedivers and support crew waited, one minute ticked by – she broke the surface at 1minute and 48 seconds holding the 48m tag, What happened next was, for me, a moment of truth as to how these divers just love and respect the sport of freediving. It also showed the camaraderie and respect that had developed amongst them due to the many hours of training that had been put into reaching this moment, anchored in the sheltered waters of Barren Arch at the Poor Knights Islands off New Zealand’s North Island’s east coast.

Suzy was showered with congratulations; hugs and kisses aplenty. You would have been forgiven if you thought she had surfaced clutching the 60m tag. She showed no signs of disappointment – she was elated. I was told later that she had, just three days previously reached 53.5m. She was worried pre-dive because she was having trouble clearing one of her ears which proved to be a problem during her record attempt. There is also the incalculable pressure of observers both above water and in-water, judges, photographers, scuba divers, support divers, all watching you as you prepare for and during your dive.

It’s a hard ask.

John Wright started his in-water preparation for his dive. At 49 years young he was hoping to make it past the 50m mark before he reached his own half-century milestone. John is the Managing Director of the Scuba Experience Company and the moving force for the No Bubbles team which is the organisation he has set-up to provide training and support logistics for promoting the sport of freediving. His enthusiasm is infectious; he is absolutely passionate about freediving.

His fins crashed the surface as it swallowed his descending body. The timer called one minute — then whoosh at 1 minute 30 seconds, John’s smiling face broke the surface. Fifty-two metres screamed out from his hand.

The joint went wild!

I haven’t witnessed such spontaneity, laughter, camaraderie and the feeling of belonging to a group of divers since the days when dive clubs were very active and strong throughout New Zealand. These 24 freedivers were having a ball, just loving the day out on the water. The camaraderie and celebration continued into the evening at the Ngunguru Country Club. It was fantastic to be part of it. Their logo may be No Bubbles but these divers were absolutely ‘bubbling’ with their passion for freediving – fantastic!

Congratulations to Suzy and John and to all those on board plus the Dive Tutukaka crew whose boatman ship was superb!

Thanks also to their sponsors Red Bull, TYR and Seven Tenths for their assistance and support which is most appreciated by the No Bubbles team.

text and photography by Dave Moran

There was a buzz in the air, you could feel and see the excitement as divers and friends loaded their gear aboard Dive! Tutukaka’s El Tigre on Anzac morning. A chain lay out along the footpath stretching to over 60 metres; plastic tags fixed to the chain indicated the length beneath a large inflated inner-tube that the chain was fixed to. The tags started off at 10m and descended in 5m increments until the last tag boldly shouted 60m!

NZUA President Jeroen Jongejans and myself signed off the official form that verified that the chain and the fixed tags had been officially measured before being loaded on to El Tigre.

Fifteen minutes, the call went out, then 6-5-4-3-2-1-45 seconds -30- 15-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 —— Suzy Osler sucked in her final breath and gracefully descended parallel to the chain, adjacent to her was another chain where safety divers on scuba who, in their own way, gave her encouragement as she attempted to reach her target of 60m.

On the surface her fellow freedivers and support crew waited, one minute ticked by – she broke the surface at 1minute and 48 seconds holding the 48m tag, What happened next was, for me, a moment of truth as to how these divers just love and respect the sport of freediving. It also showed the camaraderie and respect that had developed amongst them due to the many hours of training that had been put into reaching this moment, anchored in the sheltered waters of Barren Arch at the Poor Knights Islands off New Zealand’s North Island’s east coast.

Suzy was showered with congratulations; hugs and kisses aplenty. You would have been forgiven if you thought she had surfaced clutching the 60m tag. She showed no signs of disappointment – she was elated. I was told later that she had, just three days previously reached 53.5m. She was worried pre-dive because she was having trouble clearing one of her ears which proved to be a problem during her record attempt. There is also the incalculable pressure of observers both above water and in-water, judges, photographers, scuba divers, support divers, all watching you as you prepare for and during your dive.

It’s a hard ask.

John Wright started his in-water preparation for his dive. At 49 years young he was hoping to make it past the 50m mark before he reached his own half-century milestone. John is the Managing Director of the Scuba Experience Company and the moving force for the No Bubbles team which is the organisation he has set-up to provide training and support logistics for promoting the sport of freediving. His enthusiasm is infectious; he is absolutely passionate about freediving.

His fins crashed the surface as it swallowed his descending body. The timer called one minute — then whoosh at 1 minute 30 seconds, John’s smiling face broke the surface. Fifty-two metres screamed out from his hand.

The joint went wild!

I haven’t witnessed such spontaneity, laughter, camaraderie and the feeling of belonging to a group of divers since the days when dive clubs were very active and strong throughout New Zealand. These 24 freedivers were having a ball, just loving the day out on the water. The camaraderie and celebration continued into the evening at the Ngunguru Country Club. It was fantastic to be part of it. Their logo may be No Bubbles but these divers were absolutely ‘bubbling’ with their passion for freediving – fantastic!

Congratulations to Suzy and John and to all those on board plus the Dive Tutukaka crew whose boatman ship was superb!

Thanks also to their sponsors Red Bull, TYR and Seven Tenths for their assistance and support which is most appreciated by the No Bubbles team.

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text and photography by Dave Moran

There was a buzz in the air, you could feel and see the excitement as divers and friends loaded their gear aboard Dive! Tutukaka’s El Tigre on Anzac morning. A chain lay out along the footpath stretching to over 60 metres; plastic tags fixed to the chain indicated the length beneath a large inflated inner-tube that the chain was fixed to. The tags started off at 10m and descended in 5m increments until the last tag boldly shouted 60m!

NZUA President Jeroen Jongejans and myself signed off the official form that verified that the chain and the fixed tags had been officially measured before being loaded on to El Tigre.

Fifteen minutes, the call went out, then 6-5-4-3-2-1-45 seconds -30- 15-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 —— Suzy Osler sucked in her final breath and gracefully descended parallel to the chain, adjacent to her was another chain where safety divers on scuba who, in their own way, gave her encouragement as she attempted to reach her target of 60m.

On the surface her fellow freedivers and support crew waited, one minute ticked by – she broke the surface at 1minute and 48 seconds holding the 48m tag, What happened next was, for me, a moment of truth as to how these divers just love and respect the sport of freediving. It also showed the camaraderie and respect that had developed amongst them due to the many hours of training that had been put into reaching this moment, anchored in the sheltered waters of Barren Arch at the Poor Knights Islands off New Zealand’s North Island’s east coast.

Suzy was showered with congratulations; hugs and kisses aplenty. You would have been forgiven if you thought she had surfaced clutching the 60m tag. She showed no signs of disappointment – she was elated. I was told later that she had, just three days previously reached 53.5m. She was worried pre-dive because she was having trouble clearing one of her ears which proved to be a problem during her record attempt. There is also the incalculable pressure of observers both above water and in-water, judges, photographers, scuba divers, support divers, all watching you as you prepare for and during your dive.

It’s a hard ask.

John Wright started his in-water preparation for his dive. At 49 years young he was hoping to make it past the 50m mark before he reached his own half-century milestone. John is the Managing Director of the Scuba Experience Company and the moving force for the No Bubbles team which is the organisation he has set-up to provide training and support logistics for promoting the sport of freediving. His enthusiasm is infectious; he is absolutely passionate about freediving.

His fins crashed the surface as it swallowed his descending body. The timer called one minute — then whoosh at 1 minute 30 seconds, John’s smiling face broke the surface. Fifty-two metres screamed out from his hand.

The joint went wild!

I haven’t witnessed such spontaneity, laughter, camaraderie and the feeling of belonging to a group of divers since the days when dive clubs were very active and strong throughout New Zealand. These 24 freedivers were having a ball, just loving the day out on the water. The camaraderie and celebration continued into the evening at the Ngunguru Country Club. It was fantastic to be part of it. Their logo may be No Bubbles but these divers were absolutely ‘bubbling’ with their passion for freediving – fantastic!

Congratulations to Suzy and John and to all those on board plus the Dive Tutukaka crew whose boatman ship was superb!

Thanks also to their sponsors Red Bull, TYR and Seven Tenths for their assistance and support which is most appreciated by the No Bubbles team.




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