Fifth bi-an­nual tech event draws im­pres­sive ar­ray of world-class speak­ers to Birm­ing­ham’s ICC - MARK EVANS joined the del­e­gates at­tend­ing this year

Sport Diver - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs by JA­SON BROWN

2016’s in­car­na­tion of the pop­u­lar tech event is a huge suc­cess, says Mark Evans.

It is amaz­ing how events can grow ex­po­nen­tially when they have the right mix to draw in exhibitors and speak­ers as well as del­e­gates. Things just nat­u­rally snow­ball when all the cor­rect boxes are ticked, and if ever there was a per­fect ex­am­ple of this in the div­ing arena, then Eurotek must be near the top of the pile. Eurotek was the brain­child of ex­pe­ri­enced tech­ni­cal divers Leigh Bishop and the late Carl Spencer, af­ter the duo vis­ited the Oztek show in 2006 and were in­spired to cre­ate a sim­i­lar event in the Euro­pean mar­ket­place. They drafted in long-time dive in­struc­tor, tech­ni­cal diver and in­dus­try stal­wart Rose­mary ‘Roz’ Lunn to as­sist with the in­au­gu­ral show back in 2008, and the bi-an­nual Eurotek has since gone from strength to strength, of­ten be­ing re­garded as the north­ern hemi­sphere’s premier ad­vanced and tech­ni­cal div­ing con­fer­ence.

Now the ‘baby’ of Leigh, Roz and fel­low tech­ni­cal diver Mark Dixon, Eurotek week­ends at Birm­ing­ham’s ICC seam­lessly blend a small but com­pre­hen­sive se­lec­tion of exhibitors with a vast ar­ray of speak­ers pre­sent­ing talks and work­shops on a wide range of sub­jects, with a glit­ter­ing gala din­ner in­cor­po­rat­ing a pres­ti­gious awards cer­e­mony shoe­horned in the mid­dle.

This year, there were more than 40 dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tional and in­spir­ing talks and use­ful work­shops. Del­e­gates had a hard time choos­ing which talks to at­tend, with no less than four sep­a­rate pre­sen­ta­tions run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ously through­out each day, with reg­u­lar breaks to al­low pe­rusal of the ex­hi­bi­tion hall, or to grab a bite to eat.

In the ex­hi­bi­tion hall over both days, del­e­gates could min­gle and chat with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from com­pa­nies such as Ot­ter Water­sports, AP Div­ing, Apeks, Fourth El­e­ment, Dive Rite, Ra­tio, Bonex, Suex and VMS, many of which were show­cas­ing new prod­ucts.


His­tory buffs were blown away by Immi Wallin’s fas­ci­nat­ing story of a 300-year-old, 40-gun Dutch man-of-war frigate ly­ing in re­mark­able con­di­tion on the Baltic seabed; Keiran Hat­ton’s tale of an ex­pe­di­tion to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Jut­land by vis­it­ing the mighty ship­wrecks where they lie in the treach­er­ous North Sea; and Richie Kohler’s pre­sen­ta­tion about an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sink­ing of the Bri­tan­nic in the Aegean Sea in 1916. Then there was Pete Mes­ley’s in­sight into the amaz­ing, 150-year-old wooden sail­ing ves­sels ly­ing in pris­tine con­di­tion on the bot­tom of the Great Lakes in the USA and Canada; and Mark ‘Sharky’ Alexan­der’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 60th an­niver­sary of the sink­ing of the An­drea Do­ria, once re­ferred to as the ‘Mount Ever­est of Wreck Div­ing’.

“His­tory buffs were blown away by Immi Wallin’s fas­ci­nat­ing story of a 300-yearold, 40-gun Dutch man-of-war frigate ly­ing in re­mark­able con­di­tion on the Baltic seabed”

Those with an in­ter­est in go­ing un­der­ground were spoilt for choice, with Cristina Ze­nato’s talk on an epic cave ex­plo­ration through the Zo­diac Sys­tem in the Ba­hamas; Dr Dun­can Price’s in­sight into the world of UK cave div­ing; Sami Paakkari­nen’s pre­sen­ta­tion into a chal­leng­ing project in the re­mote caves of Ro­ma­nia’s Apuseni moun­tain range; and Mar­tyn Farr’s lively jaunt through the his­tory of cave div­ing around the world.

Pho­tog­ra­phers and videog­ra­phers were also well catered for, with var­i­ous pre­sen­ta­tions on shoot­ing in ex­treme con­di­tions - Becky Schott took del­e­gates be­hind-the-scenes on some of her film projects, in­clud­ing un­der Arc­tic ice, while Lau­rent Ballesta dis­cussed the chal­lenges of ven­tur­ing into ul­tra-deep wa­ter in pur­suit of the ‘liv­ing di­nosaur’ coela­canth.

There were talks on how to get started in tech­ni­cal div­ing; an in­sight into the mind­set and fo­cus of elite free­d­iver Her­bert Nitsch, who plunged to 253m on the world’s deep­est No Limit free­d­ive; and a sober­ing pre­sen­ta­tion by Gavin An­thony on what hap­pens - or should hap­pen - to equip­ment af­ter a fa­tal div­ing in­ci­dent.

“Del­e­gates had a hard time choos­ing which talks to at­tend, with no less than four sep­a­rate pre­sen­ta­tions run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ously through­out each day”


The sec­ond day of Eurotek brought even more in­ter­est­ing and eye­open­ing talks and pre­sen­ta­tions.

Becky Schott took to the stage once again, this time show­cas­ing some amaz­ing im­agery from the Great Lakes in North Amer­ica; Evan Ko­vacs took the au­di­ence on a tour of var­i­ous ship­wrecks in stun­ning 3D, as well as re­turn­ing later in the day to jour­ney to the an­cient An­tikythera ship­wreck off Greece; and John Ken­dall dis­cussed a ground­break­ing ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­pe­di­tion to re­search Ro­man-era wrecks in the Ae­o­lian Sea that com­bined tech­ni­cal divers with sub­mersibles.

Cave diver Ian France showed the au­di­ence what awaits in the flooded mines scat­tered around the UK; Mar­tyn Farr in­tro­duced a talk on the Caves of Cong in the Gal­way Mayo re­gion of Ire­land; and ev­ery­one was thrilled to view Div­ing into the Un­known, the multi-award-win­ning film by Juan Reina about four Fin­nish divers risk­ing their lives to re­cover the bod­ies of two of their friends lost in Plura Cave.

Ahmed Gabr talked about his four-year train­ing regime to bag the world open-cir­cuit depth record, at­tain­ing a depth of 332.35m; Gra­ham Black­more dis­cussed a project to ex­plore the deep-wa­ter reefs off Ber­muda; Mark ‘Sharky’ Alexan­der con­ducted a work­shop on ex­pe­di­tion medicine, and how to work with min­i­mal sup­plies; and Pas­cal Van Erp did a pre­sen­ta­tion on how his team are re­duc­ing ‘ghost fish­ing’ by re­mov­ing fish­ing gear trapped on deep wrecks and reefs.


“This year we have def­i­nitely had a pos­i­tive up­swing in the num­ber of over­seas at­ten­dees”, stated Rose­mary. “More than 600 divers at­tended Eurotek, with over a third of del­e­gates fly­ing in from 22 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. What does sur­prise me is that Brit scuba divers see the word ‘tek’ and think that this amaz­ing event is not for them. You don’t have to own a Lam­borgh­ini to ad­mire the car, and the same goes for Eurotek. We al­ways have a hand­ful of non-divers com­ing to Eurotek be­cause they en­joy the sto­ries so much. Where else can you get to hear real div­ing ex­plor­ers tell their in­cred­i­ble tales, and then meet them af­ter­wards? Leigh Bishop does a ster­ling job sourc­ing speak­ers and putting to­gether the talk sched­ule. The re­sult is that we were able to show­case the Plura Cave film Div­ing Into The Un­known, the Gombessa Coela­canth Project, Ghost Fish­ing in Scapa Flow and re­veal ground-break­ing sorb re­search.

“Ear­lier this year a team led by As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Mitchell pub­lished a re­search pa­per com­par­ing two types of car­bon diox­ide ab­sorbent, or sorb. This very use­ful safety in­for­ma­tion for re­breather divers was funded by Shear­wa­ter Re­search. Our com­mu­nity of ad­vanced and tech­ni­cal divers have a lot of ques­tions we need an­swer­ing, hence we de­cided that this year the money raised from the Eurotek raffle was to be do­nated to Drs Si­mon Mitchell and Neal Pol­lock. I am de­lighted to say that we raised £6,532! This money is go­ing to be used to fund re­search specif­i­cally for the ben­e­fit of the world­wide ad­vanced and tech­div­ing com­mu­nity, so that ev­ery diver has ac­cess to it. We look for­ward to the doc­tors re­port­ing their find­ings at the next Eurotek.”

Leigh, Roz and Mark are al­ready hard at work aim­ing to bet­ter even this il­lus­tri­ous line-up of speak­ers at Eurotek 2018. Mark it on your cal­en­dar, as it is not some­thing you will want to miss.

Many of the talks were packed out

Tim Cle­ments from VMS demon­strates a Sen­tinel re­breather to a del­e­gate

The lav­ish gala din­ner took place on the Satur­day evening

Her­bert Nitsch dis­cussed ex­treme free­d­iv­ing

Peter Wil­son talk­ing KUBI

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