VB14, competition day 5
Poor Aurore Asso. All competition long she's been quietly working her way up to the French CWT record of 82m. She made it today, grabbed the tag and, in her own words, was so happy that she "forgot about the ascent". That's some serious relaxation at more than 80m down. Still one more dive to go for the French songstress however. My money's on her getting it this time.
And how about Yaron Hoory? His third attempt at the CNF national record ended with something resembling an impression of the incredible hulk. Seabirds were disturbed from their roosts in the cliffs around the blue hole as he roared "I'm ok!" some seconds after being revived from his third blackout of the competition. Speaking afterwards about his plans for the remaining dives he may still have had a little bit of brain-fog on board. "I don't care anymore" he told me "I'm just gonna go for it again, if I make it I make it, if I black out, I black out - I don't give a f*&k." Judges, safety team and emergency services will be pleased to know he has subsequently mellowed his assessment somewhat and set his sights a little lower (or is it higher?) In other news, the Japanese women continued their relentless march towards CWT glory.
Misuzu made a massive 91m - personal best and national record for her, whilst Sayuri Kinoshita dived her way into second place overall with a white card at 73m. Bit of a stumble for Tomoka though, she turned early today at 73/88m. How long before Misuzu is breathing down the neck of a certain Russian grandmother I wonder? The only Russian woman in the competition: Marianna Krupniskaya, looks a solid bet for first place now after another huge CWT dive to 86m. No more hiding for her and a certain Samo Jeranko either: Regulars to this blog will already be familiar with the Eurasian bubble of love that's been simmering throughout the training period and competition. They've been trying to keep it on the down-low but couldn't help themselves today and were caught by the TV cameras in a tense embrace during some record attempt or other, and broadcast to the four corners of the globe, check the video here.
That was obviously the main news for me today but I also heard that 15x World Record Holder William Trubridge might have had a go at diving quite a long way without any fins on, and didn't quite make it. In fact, that was probably more the purpose of the video above now I think about it. One of the things I especially love about that video is the way that, in order to show his ascent from 100m, the production team have flipped the descent footage upside down! Either that or there was a total eclipse of the sun, and the bottom plate suddenly became incandescent, neither of which I noticed. Gotta love TV. By freediving standards, the crowd was enormous, lining the beach at least 3 deep and ringing the competition area in the water. The audience in New Zealand is also likely to be well into the thousands - at least half the country's population. The atmosphere was tense, broken only by the sight of the normally shirtless platform co-ordinator Steven Keenan geared up to the max in Steinlager apparel and looking like nothing so much as the cox for a beer-fueled rowing team. To avoid the cold water (now a chilly 25 degrees) Trubridge took a boat across to the platform - a surprise to me since I always thought he could walk on water. All joking aside, William has handled this entire affair with a dignity and humility that leaves me (almost) speechless. Considering some of the misfires of recent days, he dived unbelievably well, looking a little tense beforehand, as you might expect, but committing himself 100%. As events unfolded I was struck by his bravery in taking on the challenge at all - a televised record attempt is uncharted territory for the sport, never mind the athlete involved, but it was in front of the cameras afterwards that I really felt he did us his greatest service: Embracing his blackout as a "plot twist" in his desire to push the record deeper, he displayed good humour, courage and humility in adversity. The presenters had to tell him at least twice to stop apologising to the people of New Zealand, check the video here That's enough sunshine up his ass for a little while, more on the attempt and its implications for the sport in a different article - from a reporter with fingers rather than fins.
The men's competition has just got interesting. Regulars will know that we've been backing Trubridge to win from the word go, but after Alexey Molchanov's FIM dive to 114m today, it's going to be tough for the Kiwi to fight his way back in. The Russian really is bombproof. The first of 2 cock-ups with the line today saw him clipping on just 90 seconds before his official top. Did it phase him? Not a bit. Witnesses caught the ghost of a smile before, in the words of one observer "he just disappeared completely" I can only imagine she meant from behind his eyes, otherwise it's cheating. Whatever happened in there, he nailed the dive, and bagged his 46th Russian record to boot. After that the records fell like rain.
Partners Kate Middleton (NZL) and Michael Board (GBR) nailed one more each at 71m FIM and a huge 103m CWT respectively. Kudos to Mike who had a bad one at the same depth just a few days ago. He needed a couple of attempts at his surface protocol but who's counting. Pascal Berger (SUI) (can you believe it?) has well and truly put his black dog to bed and picked up a CNF national record to add to his collection. Estrella Navarro Holm of Mexico took a break from modelling various pieces of equipment on the beach to bag one more for the Americas as well. Right, that's about all for today, tomorrow it's the apnea games day which, my friends, I'm sure you can imagine, has got me rubbing my greasy little fins with glee.