Sunday, 21 October 2012

EUROTEK 2012

I was absolutely gutted (to say the least) when I was unable to attend EUROTEK 2010 due to being stuck in a desert with my day job so when EUROTEK 2012 came along I knew I had to go.
So, for those of you who haven’t heard of it; “What is EUROTEK?”

EUROTEK is Europe’s largest technical diving conference.  It is an event where the world’s leading explorers, cameramen, scientists and manufacturers can get together and talk about what’s happening in the ever expanding work of technical diving.  Organised by Leigh Bishop, Mark Dixon, Rosemary E Lunn and Crispin Brake* it is regarded as being one of the best diving events in the world.
* Unfortunately Crispin Brake died after he failed to surface from a dive in July earlier this year whilst diving the wreck of the Arala.

2012 was the third such conference (following on from 2008 and 2010) and was held on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October at Birmingham’s ICC.  Delegates could purchase an individual day pass or a weekend pass (plus the Gala Dinner) however unlike the Dive Shows, no presentation was repeated.  Criticisms have been made over previous years EUROTEKs as there’s too many good presentations; you simply can’t see them all, and by looking at the program this years proved no different (4 halls and 7 slots per day).  Leigh Bishop did comment on this in his opening address by suggesting the conference could be run over 3 days or by having fewer speakers however it wouldn’t be EUROTEK if it was.

Below I will try to sum up the show by trying to explain the presentations I visited.

Day 1
I arrived nice and early at 0830 to have a quick look around the stands.  To name a few (from memory) there was Deep-Ideas, TekLine, Narked at 90 (2010 EUROTEK technical innovation award), Silent Thrill, Apeks, JJ-CCR, RAID, PADI TECREC, TDI, SF2 CCR, Light Monkey, Kent Tooling, Otter Drysuits (2010 EUROTEK special award for outstanding contribution to the Industry), Miflex Hoses, SSI, Suex, Underwater Explorers, IANTD (UK), Hollis, VR Technologies, Santi, rEvo Rebreathers, Fourth Element (2012 EUROTEK outstanding contribution to the diving industry awardwinners), Green Force, CDG, MR Diving, and Ambient Pressure Diving (2008 EUROTEK technical innovation award).  I know I’ve missed a few out; apologies to those I have.

I quickly found Stephen Phillips and Mark Powell from TDI and dropped off my bag.  Between lectures and window shopping this is where I would be found. 

Revisiting Tek Diving (Part 1) by Michael Menduno
2012 EUROTEK lifetime achievement award winner, author of aquaCorps and the man who penned the term “Technical Diving” Michael Menduno delivered the first of a 2 part presentation on the history of the sport.

Killing Them Softly; CCR Deaths (1998 – 2010) by Dr Andrew Fock
This presentation was trying to establish if CCR divers are more prone to incidents than OC divers, and also which CCR, or type of CCR (manual or electric) is more prone than others.  Surprisingly, or not, the statistics (although Dr Fock acknowledges that not all incident data was present) show the percentages between divers trained and incidents are similar.

Mars the Magnificent; the story of an epic shipwreck discovery by Richard Lundgren
2012 EUROTEK diver of the conference award winner delivered an amazing presentation on the discovery of Mars the Magnificent.  This is the type of project that one can only dream of being involved in.  When listening to Richard talk everyone in the audience was amazed at what has been achieved.  The interest generated in his own country was so vast, within 2 hours of finding the wreck it was protected by law and the King of Sweden popped by for a visit.  We knew the wreck was large, the dimensions alone proved it.  One of the things that took the audience by surprise is when he showed a photo of 2 emergency cylinders clipped to a line, and then zoomed out everyone was stunned.  A collage of 650+ photos which if printed would be 15ft wide!   I truly look forward to seeing how this project develops.

3D cave diving in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic by Evan Kovacs
This presentation was primarily about 3D filming however I went in to see the caves.  In 3D it was truly stunning.  Seeing a diver actually pop out of the screen and swim towards you.  Amazing.

Rescue of an unconscious diver from depth: the new UHMS Diving Committee Guidelines by Dr Simon Mitchell
Each diving agency has their own guidelines which can be subject to debate.  This presentation helped to answer a lot of questions, for example, “if I find a casualty underwater with the regulator out, do I put it back in?” “do I have to wait until the relaxation phase of an o2 hit before lifting a casualty?”.  A humorous presentation which encouraged audience debate.

Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony
This was the chance for everyone to get suited and booted and show themselves off.  The dress unsurprisingly was black tie so I decided to go in my Mess Dress (& stood out).  I was sat on the TDI table (#1) with a variety of instructors and we ate and drank until the early hours (some earlier than others).  The food was great and afterwards the awards were given.  I’ve already mentioned a few in this blog however another worth mentioning is the innovation award which was awarded to Martin and Amy Stanton from Vobster Quay for TEKCamp (see my blog here).  Additionally, there was a raffle where 1 lucky guest won a trip for 2 to Truk Lagoon with Lust for Rust worth over £7000.  Lucky sod!

Day 2
Unsurprisingly I arrived a little later than yesterday but still in time for the first presentation.

The Psychology of Accidents by Mark Powell
2010 EUROTEK publication of significance (Deco for Divers launched at EUROTEK 2008) award winner gave a great presentation on why accidents happen.  It was very interesting to listen to and on a number of occasions wowed the audience with things we missed.

Deep Stops, deep trouble? by Dr Andrew Fock
To be honest, a little above my head this one.  However what was interesting is that no single algorithm always got the diver out of the water first.

Revisiting Tek Diving (Part 2) by Michael Menduno
A continuation from yesterdays presentation.

Deep CCR Diving, exploring the Blue Lake in Russia and Decompression Sickness by Martin Robson
For me the presentation of the weekend by far.  The triumphs and pitfalls of exploring Blue Lake in Russia which resulted in the unfortunate death of a support diver and his “DCI”.  I for one am in awe of this man and can only dream of doing some of the things he has been lucky enough to witness.  I hope to be doing some “support diver” training with him including setting a habitat, installing O2 and comms feeds, being a habitat support to name a few.  Watch this space!

Decompression sickness in remote locations: an emerging problem in technical diving expeditions by Dr Simon Mitchell
Another humorous presentation which again involved audience partition.  Using Truk Lagoon and Bikini Atoll as an example, there were discussions on how to plan dives and hopefully avoid a DCI but also, what if you got one?  Would you cancel a trip of a lifetime for a sore elbow?  No rights or wrongs but certainly things to debate.

I am truly gutted that the conference didn’t last longer as there were some amazing presentations I wish I had had the chance to see including; Diving Incident and Safety Management System (DISMS) by Gareth Lock; Project Tiger – Wreck diving WW2 wrecks by Rich Walker; Deep Wreck Explorations of the Dark Star Team by Mark Dixon and Jeff Cornish; Rebreather Safety: checklists and other debates from RF3 including a panel of Rebreather Experts will answer your questions; Recreational rebreathers, their place and effect in technical diving by Paul Toomer; Making Bikini and Truk Lagoon a reality for divers by Pete Mesley; and Baltic Wreck Search - The search for lost wrecks in the Baltic Sea by Richard Lundgren.

I could talk about different kit I got to touch and play with but I won’t; it would bore you to death.  Official photos for the event were taken by Jason Brown of BARDOCreative and can be viewed as follows; Exhibition, Gala Dinner, Speakers.

Hopefully this may have wet your appetite.  Unfortunately the talks are not recorded for the fear of people not attending the conference and watching them online instead so the only way you will get to see these is to simply go.  Myself, I cannot wait until EUROTEK 2014!  Put the dates in your diary now; Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th October 2014.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.
Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l