VB14, Competition Day1 | Freedive Earth

VB14, Competition Day1

First-day Nerves for Everyone but a Few Shine Through

The storm clouds are gathering now in earnest over Long Island Bahamas but for the first day of competition at Vertical Blue 2014, the wind died to a whisper and the sun shone bright over (sort of) crystal water.

The most important piece of infrastructure for the competition, the conch stand, was up in good order but on the platform there was something afoot: With 10 minutes to go before the first official top the line was still out of the water and there were no tags on the bottom plate. Head of safety Johnny "Deep" Sunnex sprang to the rescue with a nimbleness seldom seen outside of a pair of red speedos and after a short sprint to the shore returned with a wad of them which organiser William Trubridge attached to the plate whilst it was submerged, on a single breath, naturally. The competition started right on time.

First-day nerves extended to a few of the athletes too. There were some huge announcements as a few divers sought to make an impression on the competition early on: 78m CWT for Lena Jovanovic of Serbia, a massive 85m CWT for Russian Marianna Krupnitskaya, not to mention a jaw-dropping 97m CNF for the World Champion Alexey Molchanov. A couple of early turns and a blackout later, it was Slovenian Samo Jeranko (103m CWT), Misuzu Okamoto of Japan (86m CWT - huge for her) and Mateusz Malina of Poland (113m FIM) who emerged with smiles. Oh, and Alexey was still smiling too, obviously. One of the great virtues of this competition is that there's plenty of time to think big, and to recover from disappointment. Don't write anyone off just yet. Because of an error in estimating the stretch of the line, a few of the athletes ended up with numbers on the official gauge a fair way deeper than their announcements. Malina, for example, actually reached a depth of 114.5m. That'll give him confidence for subsequent dives. The error, of course, has now been rectified. Interesting developments, too, for Venezuelan and former World Champion Carlos Coste. He announced 64m No-Fins and completed the dive with an enthusiasm that almost disrupted his surface protocol...but not quite. He was given a white card, despite some whooping and cheering (or was it a noisy exhale) before his signal. That result sets him well on his way to challenging for third place, though he's going to have to pull out some big dives to beat the big Slovenian, who's looking stronger than the smell of 5 day old fish. The third session was white cards all round. Highlights included a 47m CNF dive for Swiss Pascal Berger who's finally managed to beat the black dog of depression and actually complete a dive, as well as 4 national records in CNF for Alejandro Lemus (MEX), Sayuri Kinoshita (JPN), Simon Bennet (CHI - that's Chile, not China, though with a name like that he sounds more like he's from Stoke) and Karla Mendez (VEN). Well done guys.

Vertical blue 2014, day 1 Results:

Kudos, too, to the safety team who were slick and well disciplined throughout despite having a couple of big blackouts to deal with early on. Their extensive training and preparation have clearly paid off.

That's it for today, I've got to run an tie stuff down before the wind gets any stronger. Till tomorrow, if there's anything left by then.

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