This week, we were at TekCamp at Vobster Quay in the UK – a project we helped to launch seven years ago which won the Innovation Award from the Eurotek Diving Conference. An intense workshop of technical diving tasters, TekCamp introduces divers to the equipment and training techniques as well as some of the essential skills required for technical diving, from laying line in an overhead environment to decompression procedures.
In addition to this, world class divers give presentations to the participants inspiring them with stories of adventure, or details of projects that they are involved with. Canada’s Explorer-in-Residence, Jill Heinerth, fourth element Team Diver Phil Short and even our own co-founder Jim Standing have presented. This year, the participants have been treated to the first hand account of rescuing the trapped Thai football team by John Volanthen (surely destined to become Sir John?) and Chris Jewell and have had their eyes opened with presentations from some of Europe’s leading tech divers.
Our accounts manager and serious dive enthusiast Rannva gives us an account of the event…
Standing at a booth at dive shows is standard for us here at fourth element. This time we took a shift from regular dive show to hit up TekCamp at Vobster Quarry to flip the script and hit the water!
The event was designed to give everyone with an interest in tech diving full access to most aspects of tech diving. It took place over four days with loads of different tech diving related activities. It doesn’t matter whether participants were a beginner diver or an advanced tech diver – there was something for everyone.
There were work shops by some of the best instructors in the industry. Not only were they all extremely friendly and great fun to be around, they were helping introduce tech diving to beginners, as well as fine tuning experienced divers. Workshops covered everything from finning techniques, to navigational skills, to how to properly deploy a DSMB. It didn’t stop there though, more advanced workshops, like photogrammetry, were also available.
Fourth Element’s role at the event was to equip divers with the best exposure protection possible. While learning new skills divers were able to pop on an X-core vest to help with the sharp thermocline at Vobster Quarry. The reviews were unanimously in favour of the awesome self-warming technology.
The teaching didn’t stop with intros and fine tuning. Ever wanted to try sidemount? What about twinsets? Rebreathers? Or underwater scooters?! You could try it all – and most people did. Even the FE staff popped in the water to try some new gear. Dom got to try a DPV and he had loads of fun whizzing like a dolphin around the quarry (vroom vroom). I managed to try twinsets-different to my usual sidemount kit-with TDI Instructor Trainer Mark Powell. While I initially felt like a wobbly turtle, I found out that they are not as heavy as expected and very easy to set up. Drills with shutdowns and stages were also introduced to add a fun challenge to the mix.
There was a great vibe around the event which mixed fun with learning in a perfect balance. So, what’s the takeaway? TekDive 2018 was THE UK dive event for demos and learning. If there is a little tech’ie brewing in your heart, do not miss out of this event next time in 2020!
Lots of inspirational talks by some of the pioneers in diving took place at Tek Camp 2018. Kieran Hatton, for example, had a captivating talk about the HMS Vanguard who rests at Scapa Flow. This wreck is not usually open for divers as it is a designated wargrave where 843 crew lost their lives, but Kieran was part of a team that got a permit to survey the site.
A highlight for everyone was the presentation of the Thai Cave Rescue of the Wild Boars by John Volanthen and Chris Jewell. These guys provided us firsthand accounts about the rescue and had the entire room sitting at the edge of their seats, as they spoke about their captivating story. They received a truly well deserved standing ovation, not just for one the most amazing rescues the world has ever seen, but also for a great presentation.