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New World Depth Record

By : Volker Clausen


The Egyptian Red Sea is no new stage for diving world records, we have seen in the past couple of years Yasmin Dalkilic achieve the incredible depth of 105 MSW on a single breath of air setting a new (still standing) free diving world record in Hurghada in July 2001.This was intensively covered by CNN, Discovery, BBC and was still being aired as recently as two weeks ago in Turkey.

Last year also in Hurghada saw Hens Hilbert set a new German and Red Sea open circuit scuba diving record of 240 msw, also covered by German TV; both of these events were sponsored and organized by Divers Lodge Hurghada.

In August 2003 Safaga was the venue of yet another amazing world record, this time using the advanced technology of Closed Circuit rebreathers, here is the story from Orca Diving Center in Safaga.


New World Depth Record with APD Inspiration rebreather.

Safaga, August, 21st, 2003. Eight nautical miles from Safaga, Egypt on Panorama Reef.
Today a dive-team consisting of three German divers succeeded in reaching a depth of 224.5 m with the Ambient Pressure Diving closed circuit rebreather. The divers Volker Clausen, Manfred Führmann and Chris Ullmann set this new world record easily exceeding the previous record of 189m in this category. During this record attempt all three divers had severe technical problems with their equipment which will temporarily delay confirmation of the record.

However, it is expected that The Guinness Book of Records will record the attempt in its next release. The German TV-Magazine "Galileo" will exclusively document this amazing feat in its October edition. Altogether 17 safety divers, countless surface assistants, along with the considerable logistical and technical effort of the ORCA-Diving Center in Safaga made this attempt possible. One of the owners of ORCA Diving Center is Volker Clausen, one of the new world record holders. "We have been preparing intensively for many weeks and had four of our boats and almost one hundred cylinders with approx. 253,000 liters of different gases in use." said Volker.

On the morning of August 21st the world record attempt begun on time at 7.00 a.m. as the boats left Safaga for the Panorama Reef. Days prior to the attempt, Manfred Führmann and his assistants anchored an Underwater-Habitat at the reef in six meters.

The habitat can most easily be described as a underwater-balloon holding an air-bubble. This shelter kept the risk of the ascent for the three divers to a minimum.

As planned, Clausen, Führmann and Ullmann begun the world record attempt at 9.00 a.m. The descent to 224.5 M (2.5 M deeper than planned) took 11 minutes. This is 35.5 meters below the previous world record of 189 meters, which was established last year in Dahab, Sinai close to our location. The diving world is a small one!

The record was not achieved without difficulties as they encountered some severe problems and it was only the audacious feats of the divers along with their meticulous preparation that won the day. Manfred Führmann commented, "The attempt was hanging by a thread at many points during the dive." Manfred's problems started on the descent at 210 meters, as all his instruments failed, before coming back again. Despite this failure, he continued down to the other divers at the record depth because he had the camera which would prove the record.

The electronics of Volker Clausen also failed on the ascent at 220 meters depth and these would not start again. He ascended to 90 meters with the help of his emergency-gas and fellow divers where the safety divers then stepped in to give more gas. The emergency scenario worked as it had been planned and rehearsed.

The 3 divers would surely have failed if it had not been for the excellent team work of the safety divers. Divers supplied air until another Inspiration was delivered 3 minutes later. Volker Clausen, "I can't remember, but I guess I thought temporarily - that's it." The rebreather electronics of the third record-diver Chris Ullmann failed also, "luckily at a depth of 50 meters".

He went to his emergency stages before he too received another Inspiration rebreather from one of the safety divers. All three divers stated after the dive that they were back safe because of luck, experience from thousands of dives, perfect advanced planning and the professionalism of their safety crew.

The three divers went into the underwater-habitat after almost fours hours of ascent and spent another three hours there. The crew took good care of them and even served German bratwurst. Führmann and Ullmann finished their dive on time after a little more than seven hours, Clausen spent another hour for reasons of safety. As he boarded the Alia I at 17.30 p.m. he finally received a hurricane of applause from all the four Orca boats and the flotilla of other dive boats which had anchored at the reef to witness the world record attempt.

The three record breaking divers were exhausted but in excellent physical condition, proud of their achievement and glad to have preserved their good health. All divers agreed that the Inspiration rebreather had been dived to its absolute limit.

Without further modification the rebreather could not be taken deeper!

Any dive can be dangerous. The deeper one goes the more dangerous it becomes. Below 100m is extremely risky, but below 180 meters then you are really risking your life. Volker, Manfred and Chris barely escaped from this attempt. Chris Ullmann: "This rebreather couldn't stand the pressure of 23 bar"
Despite the risks all divers agreed that the 21st of August 2003 will be the highlight of their diving careers, a fascinating experience which to them was beyond words.

This record attempt had been registered already in May at the Guinness Book of Records. The pictures shot by Manfred Führmann with his underwater camera will prove the successful conclusion

The pictures will also be shown in the German TV-Magazine "Galileo". ProSieben also shot the expedition with their own camera during the teams advance planning and will air their exclusive footage some time in October. Look for details.

 

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Sam Kirby is the Regional Manager for PADI International Ltd with responsibility for Egypt, Eastern Europe, Wales and Scotland. A former Instructor
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