The Ted Eldred Rally 2004 (Albury, South Australia) by Peter Fields

Date: 1/6/2004

Des Walters, owner and operator of Descend Underwater Training Centre organised another successful Ted Eldred Rally. The primary focus was to give a presentation on the origins and success of the Porpoise brand. A remarkable man, Ted now 85 years old, showed the quickness, intelligence and aptitude which made him such a formidable force in the early days of scuba diving.

The rally kicked off with a get-together where there was much animated discussion and dissection of early Porpoise apparatus with Des quizzing Mel Brown and Ted about the time line of development of the scuba equipment, which Des will add to his very comprehensive CD ROM on this wonderful chapter in Australia’s diving history. Saturday ‘s action was at a pool complex at the Latchford Army barracks. Truck loads of equipment were taken to the site, all sorts of esoteric equipment – new and old – were dived. These ranged from very early Porpoise regulators to the latest Superlight commercial diving helmet.

There were also plenty of working standard dress rigs. From the fertile imagination of John Allen came the idea for a world underwater poker championships. A weighted table was set up in the deep end of the pool and hands of cards were dealt to four players. Sunday’s lecture series were given by the guest of honour, Ted Eldred himself. At one point he was discussing how difficult it was to have the rest of the diving world accept the standards for respiratory efficiency that Australia was drafting because, as he said ‘the USA considered that if the world was going to have an enema, Australia is where they would the tube’. However, Ted did manage to prove to the world that a regulator first stage capacity of 300 litres per minute was not only correct but did indeed become the world standard once Ted’s work was recognised and the tests were done. Captain Bob Scott related tales of the early days in the Australian off-shore oil industry.

Des Williams continued his series on the life and times of Harry Chadwick – noted Australian standard dress diver. John Allen reprised the Harold Holt underwater line-dance rally of a few years ago, Stanley Havilland gave an illustrated talk on the salvage of the liner Normandie in New York Harbour in 1942 and I spoke of my adventures diving Cape Horn. Mel Brown simultaneously had several tables full of his wonderful collection of early diving gear on show. Most of the participants were also members of the Historical Diving Society, South East Asia, Australia, Pacific (HDS SEAP). Activities were conducted independently of the Society according to HDS protocols.

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