Vertical Blue, the Story so Far
Well, it’s a small one this year isn’t it? For depth specialists like organiser William Trubridge and Women’s CWT leader Misuzu Okamoto of Japan, it’s obvious that April-May is the best time of year to host the world’s most prestigious freediving competition. With visibility at a year-round maximum, lighter winds and higher temperatures, it’s a time when Dean’s Blue Hole truly lives up to its name as the best place in the world for competitive freediving. The only problem this year is the pool world championships which, being held next month in Belgrade, Serbia, have drawn the likes of Alexey Molchanov and Marianna Krupnitskaya away. Small, perhaps, but perfectly formed. Already there have been some stellar performances from the likes of Columbia’s Sofia Gomez Uribe (FIM 70m NR, CNF 51m NR), India’s Shiv Madhu (FIM 77m NR) and Japan’s Ryuzo Shinomiya (CWT 95m). There have been 9 national records so far, and no blackouts.
Men, William Trubridge leads
For the men, kiwi William Trubridge is cruising in the lead. Dives of 115m FIM and 92m CNF look like a walk in the park for the defending champion and 15 times world record holder. He’s even been confident enough to take a second day off. Ryuzo of Japan (CWT 95m, FIM 91m) and newcomer Dean Chaouche of GBR (CNF 68m, CWT 91m) are vying for second place at the moment with everything to play for going into the final half of the competition. They’ll have to watch out though: Mexico’s Alejandro Lemus (FIM 88m, CNF 60m) - who we know has got a CWT of 100m+ - is hard on their heels. He’ll be looking for a repeat of last year’s haul of national records. Adam Stern of Australia, too, has been slowly cranking up the meters in CWT (93m) and might challenge for 3rd if he does all 3 disciplines.
Women, Karla Mendez of Venezuela
In the Women’s competition, true to form, Karla Mendez of Venezuela has produced solid dives in all 3 events and currently leads overall with FIM 59m NR, CWT 61m and CNF 43m. As usual, the Japanese are dominating in CWT: a very respectable 86m from Misuzu Okamoto puts her in the lead just a meter ahead of team-mate and VB veteran Tomoko Fukuda (C`WT 85m, FIM 66m). Tomoka looks as though she might just be having a crack at the overall prize this year, having competed in only 2 events in 2014. She’ll have a job on her hands, though: team-mate Sayuri Kinoshita had a podium finish last year and looks set to do the same again with dives of FIM 73m and CNF 60m so far. Whatever they’re feeding them over there, it’s working. Not so, sadly, for Sweden’s Annelie Pompe. After an attempt on the CWT world record late last year, freediving’s glamour girl seems to be struggling a bit in 2015 with a couple of early turns in the competition so far (CWT 48m, FIM 52m). I doubt she’ll be falling back on her career as a photographer just yet, though. Speaking of photography, legend of the lens Daan Verhoeven, must be loving it out there, if the photos that he’s sending back to Freedive-Earth HQ are anything to go by. Conditions look perfect; a far cry from the Pea-Soupers and typhoon winds of the November-December competition, and the Dutchman’s clearly in his element. The competition’s hotting up, and the records are falling. Stay tuned to Freedive-Earth for more updates, images and analysis as the winners are decided.