Finally a project that promotes the diffusion of the sport of apnea fro everyone: Beuchat and PADI the promoters.
Apnea is, we know, a niche sport, but those who practice it or have simply the opportunity to try it fall in love with it immediately. Until today, on an international level, Apnea Academy, under the guide of the multiple champion Umberto Pelizzari, has in years created the fundamental didactic for the practice in total safety of this fantastic sport, which is both physical and mental. But apnea has also always been seen as an elite sport, for professional divers and agonists, more than enthusiasts. Today, thanks to the partnership between Beuchat/Suunto and PADI, with the newly born PADI Freediver, the objective is to describe, but most of all make people try, apnea to all those who love the sea, maybe even those who have always lived it as scuba divers, or youngsters, future of this sport. For this reason FREEDIVERtour2016 was born.
In occasion of the third appointment of the Tour, that has taken place in Isola Rossa, North Sardinia, Italy, AP has gone to check personally the event organized in collaboration with the Diving Centre Costa Paradiso. Extremely nice were the atmosphere, curiosity and passion linked to apnea, with also very young participants of only 12 years of age, minimum limit of age for the PADI Freediver courses, ready for the challenge under the expert supervision of the skilled Freediving instructor Massimiliano Musella. Massimiliano is Beuchat testimonial, PADI consultant and Apnea Academy and SII instructor. The most representative comment by enthusiasts towards the newcomer freedivers? « Are you going for a freedive? Wow!!! ».
In this fantastic sunny day of July, AP has met the two people responsible of the project FREEDIVERtour2016, Dodo Tosca, Managing Director of Beuchat Italy, and Fabio Figurella, Regional Manager PADI EMEA for the South of Italy, from Rome down, islands included.
Apneapassion: Dodo, how was the idea of this Tour born?
Dodo Tosca: Well, the idea was born between me and Fabio during a trip. Since I was implementing the freediving sector, and PADI was entering in the apnea world with PADI Freediver, we have thought of this tour for 2016, together with PADI, DAN e Freedive Suunto. The initiative wants to give the opportunity to those who do not know the world of apnea do try some freediving.
AP: How is the tour going after the first three events?
DT: If compared to the scuba diving world, apnea is more complex. Those who already practice it or are spearos are not really interested, while the aim is to involve, for example, those who already practice scuba diving to try freediving. Numbers are not very big, but interest of those who participate is excellent. We have managed to involve in three events around 60 participants.
AP: The choice of linking the initiative to the diving centers has been successful?
DT: Yes, and for the first time we have managed to involve some very young participants, over 12 years old, curious of the mix between snorkeling and apnea. This is surely an important success!
AP: Is Beuchat focused on young boys and girls?
DT: Certainly yes. Moreover, apnea is in my opinion much more oriented to young generations if compared to scuba diving, also because freediving requires specific training and technique, a personal challenge and a positive competitive spirit. With our testimonial, Massimiliano Musella, people learn engaging breathing and concentration techniques.
AP: Beuchat freediving product line is complete with specific equipment?
DT: During the appointments of the tour enthusiasts have the opportunity to try almost the entire product line, from the wetsuits with internally open cell neoprene, to the reduced internal volume masks, the soft tube snorkels, to long blade fins, dismountable or not, Suunto computers in freediving mode, etc., for a general introduction. Beuchat has a complete product line for both spearfishing and freediving. Here we have brought some novelties, such as the Zento wetsuit, born more for swimming pool instructors and for swimming in general, but with great hydrodynamic penetration capacity, and some traditional wetsuits in black or camouflage.
AP: Suunto il also sponsor of the tour. Which is your relation as Beuchat and how are activities going on?
DT: Beuchat has taken Suunto distribution in various countries in Europe. We have wanted Suunto in this event so that the company could be more involved in the freediving world, and in fact some new computers specifically designed for apnea are being studied already.
And if the initiative by Beuchat has to be praised, the participation by PADI and its new sector PADI Freediver will be key for the sport of freediving. Fabio Figurella has given us some more details.
AP: Fabio, the entrance of PADI in freediving is of great importance, tell us about the steps taken and future plans.
FF: PADI, on an international level, has studied the flows of people practicing scuba diving and activities linked to it, and has confirmed a strong interest for freediving on a worldwide level. After a couple of years of study, November last year at the DEMA Show, PADI has presented the PADI Freediver program, that has a standardization almost identical to the traditional didactic. We are proud that Italy has been in the history of freediving the precursor, with professional divers such as Pelizzari and Genoni, whom I value a lot, and that have started all that is today freediving in terms of competitions, courses and didactic.
AP: So how does PADI Freediver differentiate from Apnea Academy for example?
FF: PADI wants to do something different. We believe freediving can be also seen in non-agonistic terms, as a valid alternative to scuba diving and in a way that can bring to high numbers of enthusiasts. We aim to give the opportunity to youngsters, but not only, to women and families to get to know a sport which is an alternative to scuba diving and that gives completely different sensations, without having to freedive necessarily in a competitive way.
AP: And how are scuba divers and the world linked to PADI reacting?
FF: Freediving, even if not done for competition, is complete with the technical and physical part, with training, breathing and equalization techniques, and this is a novelty that generates a lot of interest and appeal among youngsters, who usually are bored by old things, and aim to cool ones, whereas apnea, on a naming point of view, becomes freediving. So, the will of PADI is to do something new, always linked to the sea and that interests our organization. Today freediving is more linked to competitions and spearfishing, activities that do not interest PADI, while we aim to a different concept. Especially youngsters are important. Our programs have a minimum entry age of 12, but with Musella we are trying to create a new distinctive specialty that can bring age down to 8, making these kids begin to improve their capacity in the water soon.
AP: What else is PADI doing to spread the knowledge and practive of freediving among youngsters?
FF: We have a project to be in all Italian schools, and this year we have received the recognition from CONI (Italian sports federation) and will be bringing a specific lesson on environmental education in all such schools, also in collaboration with DAN and MIUR, adding for the academic year 2016-2017 the concepts of safety linked to freediving. It is key to talk to youngsters, else scuba diving and other diving activities will slowly die, since we are experiencing the increase of average age, economical crisis, and the impact of worldwide instability due to terrorism present in key countries such as the Red Sea. Work is long, and we can see this from this first tour, where numbers are still small. This is though normal, as we are starting an action at the base of a new sector. Massimiliano Musella, who in addition to being and very strong athlete is also an amazing instructor, not something so common, is creating a network of freediving instructors. We believe that in the next three years, thanks to the project in the schools, which we will bring forward with Beuchat, we will have an important increase in freediving certifications.
AP: You have spoken about sperfishing. Certainly PADI is not interested to such world, but Beuchat is, of course! How can these two worlds live together?
FF: PADI respects the spearfishing world, but is not interested in it, and has no programs referred to it. I strongly believe that a regulated fishing is possible. Personally, I have been a spearo when younger and it is something I like and am in favor about, (hopefully I will not be fired for saying this), but it must be regulated well. Not necessarily fishing is negative, negative is any action that destroys. Evidently, no to spearfishing with tanks, in the night, to indiscriminate fishing: all of this is unacceptable. The well organized AMP (Italian Protected Marine Areas) are the demonstration that something special and positive can be put in place. I have been to the AMP in Ustica and to me it is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean Sea. We have worked with the direction of the AMP that has given us funds for the training of instructors to the collection of plastics and monitoring of such aspects.
AP: And what do you think about the zones A, B and C of the AMPs, where the C area, where fishing is allowed, excludes only spearfishing?
FF: It is something completely mad (he says it together with Dodo Tosca). I do not see any reason why the spearo should not fish as any other fisherman. In reality, this comes from political reasons, since when a new AMP is created the stop comes from the local traditional fishermen. So, to let the AMP proceed, the big mistake of giving specific licenses to these traditional local fishermen is done.
AP: Apneapassion has followed the last presentation of the final zoning of the AMP of Capo Testa – Punta Falcone in the North East of Sardinia, in Italy, half an hour by car from Isola Rossa, where we are now, and the dimensions of the AMP are around 15 nautical miles with in the centre the harbour of Santa Teresa di Gallura.
FF: This does not make any sense, as the AMP need to have limited dimensions to be really constantly controlled, else they do not work. The problem is that the spearo is not represented, while the traditional fishermen are. There are absurd situations, as is the case of the AMP of Camogli (Liguria Region, Italy), where residents can fish in the B area. I have found myself during a nightly scuba dive with in front of me the fishing nets and the scuba divers group to be stopped as they were heading towards such nets.
AP: We are happy that common sense is well present also in PADI, that is not interested in spearfishing, but well knows the sea and what it does and does not need to survive!