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Cayman’s Legends and Lions a great success

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Legends and Lions

Tanks, tuxedos and tasty lionfish were all hits at Cayman’s first annual Legends and Lions scuba celebration, which rolled out October 4 – 11, 2014 with great success thanks to teamwork, a good turnout and perfect weather.

The celebration showcased Cayman’s superb diving, honored dive legends inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, fought invasive Lionfish and then served them up at a celebratory street party on the waterfront.

Legends and Lions“Legends and Lions was a successful event for its first time,” says Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall, one of the participating dive operators. “ We hope to make it a yearly celebration that highlights the fantastic scuba diving of the Cayman Islands and the reasons we are one of the world’s leading dive destinations.”

“It went really well, I’m very pleased,” agreed Keith Sahm, General Manager for Sunset House, also one of the event dive operators. “It pulled together very nicely.”

Dive industry leaders teamed up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to combine several existing scuba promotions during this traditionally slow time of year to take advantage of off-season rates. The dive deals offered by Red Sail Sports, Sunset House and Divetech attracted new divers to Cayman from as far away as Germany, and drew repeat divers from closer markets in the US back to a destination they know well and visit often.

Legends and Lions

Some visitors started the week of diving aboard a Red Sail Sports dive boat with scuba pioneers Bill Acker, Dan Orr and Leslie Leaney. The three hall of famers spoke to the group about the history of diving and their experiences in the sport. The legends and divers then hit the water together to dive Cayman’s spectacular North Wall where they explored dive sites Creole Cliff and Pinnacle Reef. It was an experience Carolyn Larrivee and her husband George from Utah won’t forget.

“I loved it! It was great to be with people who love what they do and who want to share that passion with us,” she said. “I love the camaraderie – it reassures me as a diver who loves the sport.”

“They shared this wonderful dive experience with us,” said Dan Orr, who thoroughly enjoyed the meet and greet on board. “Diving is done as a community – we are a community.”

“This is the essence of diving, which is a non-competitive sport,” agreed Leslie Leaney, a dive historian. “It’s about sharing this fun activity as a community.”

Legends and Lions

Also attending the festival were top performers from dive shops and booking agents participating in Cayman’s Tanks A Lot Rewards Program courtesy of the Department of Tourism and Cayman’s dive industry.  A couple of the FAM attendees – Paula and Dean of The Dive Academy in Ontario – celebrated by getting engaged and then picking out a ring. The weeklong fun continued with topside events that Lionfish culling certifications and culling dives to remove the predators from Cayman’s reefs. The day’s catch was then cooked up and served during a street party sponsored by Aqua Lung.

“I’ve never had Lionfish before and it’s tasty!” said a surprised and pleased Rich Peterson, visiting the island from Jacksonville, Florida.  The meal included Caribbean staples rice and peas, plantain and “cho cho”, a tropical fruit.

Legends and Lions

Legends and Lions also hosted a photo contest during the week that drew local, as well as visiting underwater photographers. The winners received prizes awarded by Scubapro, Guy Harvey and the Cathy Church Underwater Photo Centre.  Coordinator Keith Sahm says the images submitted for the event were astounding and the response to the collections has been great. Categories included Unusual, Macro, and Turtles, Stingrays and Fish. Winners included local divers Charlie Reaney, Brittany Slade, Amanda Nicholls, Chase Darnell, Courtney Platt and Ellen Cuylaerts.

“The response that we have received from our social media site showing off the winners has been absolutely fabulous and it give us great pleasure showing off these talented photographers’ work,” he said.  “Next year, we will get started much earlier, now that we have a new format in place. We’ll have more prizes, more categories. The goal is to get more entries.”

Legends and Lions

The scuba week celebration was capped off with a formal, black tie International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Dinner hosted by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. These year’s inductees were Alese and Mort Pechter, Bill Acker, Chuck Nicklin, Dan Orr and Neal Watson.  Rod McDowall of Red Sail Sports was also honored for his contributions to Cayman’s dive industry through the years.

“The induction into the local Cayman Islands Scuba Hall of Fame is appreciated,” said McDowall. “It’s always nice to get recognition for just doing your job in a diving paradise.”

The dive legends inducted to the hall of fame had this to say:

Alese Pechter: “What a fantastic weekend we had! Thank you so much for making absolutely everything so perfect. Grand Cayman has always held a special place in our hearts and this weekend just solidified that feeling even more.”

Neal Watson: “Thanks a million for the hospitality extended to my friends, family and the ‘Dive God’.”

Dan Orr: “Keith, it was a wonderful week thanks largely to you and Karin. Having all of our family stay at Sunset House was the best decision – our family loved every bit of it.  The rooms, the staff, the food and the diving were all first rate.  We sincerely thank you and Karin for everything! ”

Bill Acker: “Thank you so very much, for your help, hospitality and friendship during the past week in the Cayman Islands.  My entire family as well as our friends from Germany had a wonderful time at Sunset House.”

Legends and LionsChuck Nicklin: “Thanks to the Cayman Department of Tourism and to the hospitality of Karin and Keith Sahm of the Sunset House Dive Resort, Leslie Leaney, our eloquent MC and Co-founder of the Historical Diving Society, and to the many friends who attended. Congratulations to all inductees! It was a great event!”

Everyone involved in Legends and Lions is anxious to get started on plans for 2015 since this first event was so successful.

“We want to put this event on every divers calendar – fantastic diving, great dive deals, diving with industry celebrities and a street party – the perfect Cayman Islands dive vacation!” said Rod McDowall.

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award

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Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com.

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact heroes@emperordivers.com for details.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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