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Sayuri Kinoshita and Stig Pryds take home Gold in Blue Element

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The second edition of freediving competition Blue Element wrapped on Friday 30 November.

The 6-day event ran from 23-30 November and was organised by Jonathan Sunnex, AKA Johnny Deep and Sofía Gómez Uribe, a formidable partnership as both are recognized as one the deepest male and female freedivers in the world – Sofia is a former World Record holder in bi-fins and a multi-national record holder in both pool and depth and Johnny dives below 100m in CWT and FIM.

Blue Element Under the Surface – Sayuri. Photo: Daan Verhoeven

This competition should have been number three and as explained by Johnny “has been two years in the making. Last year we were within weeks of running the competition, we already had some freedivers on the island and then disaster struck and Hurricane Maria came through and ravaged the island.”

Set in Soufriere Bay, Dominica the diving conditions are pretty hard to beat, the water temperature doesn’t go below 26 degrees, there is no current, no waves and the visibility is 20-30m.  Twenty-two athletes from thirteen countries crossed the globe to compete before laying their fins down to rest and then starting all over again next year.  World record holders and national record holders competed on the same line as beginners and a total of twenty national records fell.

Stig Pryds – Overall Men’s Winner. Photo: Daan Verhoeven

The winners of the competition were Sayuri Kinoshita of Japan and Stig Pryds of Denmark.  Sayuri’s top dives were 83m CWT bi-fins, 98m CWT, 88m FIM, 62m CNF and Stig’s were 101m CWT, 95m FIM, 68m CNF.  Sayuri is the current FIM world record holder (97m) and former CNF world record holder (72m).  Stig Pryds holds all Danish depth national records at present (75m CNF, 102m FIM, 105m CWT).  Stig suffers from psoriatic arthritis (a chronic inflammatory joint disease, causing intense pain and extreme fatigue), making his diving results all the more impressive and inspiring.

Also impressive and worthy of a mention is that in-between organising, Sofia and Johnny snuck in some dives of their own securing spots on the podium: Sofia came second overall (80m CWT, 85m FIM, 52m CNF) and Johnny third (82m CWT, 80m FIM and 52m CNF), quite remarkable and testament to what a well-run competition Blue Element was that they were able to transition between roles.

Georgina Miller (UK Athlete) CNF. Photo: Daan Verhoeven

We had four freedivers representing the UK who all did themselves proud.  Nancy Gibson placed fourth overall with dives to 60m CWT (bi-fins), 60m FIM and 40m CNF and Georgina Miller came sixth (56m CWT, 47m FIM and 36m CNF); Paul Sutton came fifth out of the men (61m CWT, 56m FIM, 51m CNF) and Jon Fane sixth despite only competing in two out of three disciplines (77m for both CWT (bi-fins) and FIM).

Safety is paramount to Johnny and Sofia and the members of the Safety Team were selected for their experience and capabilities, arriving early to train and building a team together.  The team worked with medics to learn the most up to date procedures when dealing with potential emergencies.  British freediver Louisa Collyns, a former GB freediving athlete and instructor led the team as Chief of Safety.  Also on the team were Gary McGrath, a team GB competitor and instructor and Scottish freediver and Yoga Instructor Lynne Padden.

Blue Element Crew & Safety Team. Photo: Daan Verhoeven

Also a priority is conservation and on one of the rest days, Sofia with the support of Maaji Earth Warriors (who do beach clean ups all over Colombia) and help from the Blue Element crew and athletes, collected over 200 kilos of trash in just half an hour.  This is a tradition that will continue with each Blue Element edition.

Check out www.britishfreediving.org to find out more about freediving.

Images: Daan Verhoeven www.daanverhoeven.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation announce Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

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Stories spark the imagination and nurture ideas. They are, without doubt, our most powerful form of communicating and connecting, both with each other and with the world around us.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories. An inspiring or compelling story can spur positive action in ways that no presentation of facts can.

SOSF are delighted to introduce their new emerging Ocean Storyteller Grants, which will focus on photography in its inaugural year. The photography grant is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran and Jennifer Samuel from National Geographic.

While they are looking specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries or the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life. Four successful grantees will each receive a fully funded assignment to shoot a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under the direct mentorship of the Ocean Storytelling Grant team.

To learn more about the grant and application process click here.

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Back2Basics #8: How to secure your dome cover while underwater?!

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Matthias Lebo’s Back2Basics video series will guide you through the basics of underwater videography, equipment and maintenance. Whether you are just starting out or already taking underwater videos, this 12 part series will provide invaluable tips and improve your skills and knowledge.


In this episode of the “Back2Basics” series I share with you two ways how you can secure the neoprene cover of your underwater camera housing’s dome port while underwater.


For more about Matthias visit his social media channels:

Visit www.matthiaslebo.com for more!

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Egyptian Red Sea: South & St Johns Itinerary | 20 – 27 January 2022 | Emperor Echo Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round. Price NOW from just £785 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including: Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage 7 nights in shared cabin 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees Free Nitrox. More information on Emperor Echo Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price. Alternative departure airports available at a supplement. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

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