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EuroTek 2010 Dive Conference

Written by Agnes Milowka   
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 11:45

EuroTek 2010 I crashed through the hotel door waking Jill Heinerth from her slumber and my stuff, very typically, proceeded to explode across the small room. Jill laughed as I started unpacking my still wet wetsuit, caving helmet and overalls followed closely by high heels and a cocktail dress. It’s not often one travels to go caving with high heels in tow but the EuroTek gala dinner is a fancy event and Leigh Bishop demanded I dress up.

The dinner was a rather glamorous and glitzy affair. The boys dressed up in bow ties and suits  and looked very smart and handsome, while the ladies gave the red carpet celebrities a run for their money. It was a terrific night and I spent it in lovely company. At its heart however, EuroTek is about sharing the passion for technical diving thus the presentations is where the real action is.

EuroTek is an advanced diving conference held in Birmingham UK and the 2010 event was truly fantastic, featuring a huge variety of fabulous speakers that discussed everything from equipment, imaging and physiology to rebreathers, safety and cave and wreck diving. I must admit, the word variety can hardly be used to describe the choices I made but with so many amazing speakers talking about cave diving exploration, surely I can be forgiven for my narrow-minded itinerary?

Rick Stanton, unquestionably the most badass of all cave divers, spilled the beans about the exploration of Pozo Azul, a cave in Northern Spain. Rick Stanton, Rene Houben, John Volanthen and Jason Mallinson totally kicked ass and laid over 3.6km of line on one dive! The cave is now over 9km long from the surface, with 8.8km of it being underwter, which is a world record for the longest cave dive penetration. Truly inspirational stuff.

The old salt of cave diving, Martyn Farr gave a tour through the classic dark site diving around Europe and the UK. Some awesome photographs accompanied stories of adventure from countries all around the area including Ireland, Sardinia and France. He certainly wet my appetite for the caves in this part of the world and it seems that a move over to Europe sometime in the future seems virtually inevitable.

Now, Phill Short is my kind of guy, anyone who can get themselves through a coat hanger size hole underwater is going to get my undivided attention. His story of digging himself out of a collapse in Swildons was an absolute classic. He off course called for volunteers for his future dig and it is probably just as well that at least for now, I live on the other side of the world. I can easily see myself in the back end of Swildons cave pan in hand, digging every Saturday for the next two years.

The boys from Finland, Antti Apunen and Janne Suhonen talked about the Molnar Janos Cave System beneath the City of Budapest. Lots of exploration going on in that part of the world, but it was the amazing photographs they showed that stole the show. To hear the amount of effort and preparation that went into creating each and every one of these, made me really appreciate the images in their book ‘Divers of the Dark’.

Craig Challen talked about the exploration of Cocklebiddy Cave in Australia and while I was actually on one of the trips, I went along to support a fellow Ozzie and to keep him on the straight and narrow. Can’t have him telling lies now can we? He did a great job and reminded me just how much fun that trip was, so another trip out to the Nullarbor desert is brewing.

I also went the presentation by Tom Mount about survival dynamics, a topic that truly fascinates me – why is it that some survive while others do not? The philosophy of diver survival is complicated, but when it comes down to it, it is all about mind over matter. Tom offered a rather spiritual approach to surviving when it all goes belly up, as well as some practical advice - practice and train your dive skills!

Leigh Bishop had the unfortunate task of sharing with us the ins and outs of the Carl Spencer incident on the Britannic Expedition in 2009. He did a terrific job of sharing the lessons learned and it was certainly a not to be missed presentation. Hopefully more divers will take his advice on board; be dive fit, check out new gear before big dives and think before you leap.

Finally, the ever entertaining Simon Mitchell had lots to share about decompression, CO2 and patent foramen ovale or PFO. I am a big fan of his entertaining but though provoking lectures and learn an absolute bunch every time he opens his mouth.

Finally, I had to listen to the sound of my own voice as I shared stories from cave diving exploration in Florida and Australia. It was a whole heap of  fun and I had a truly sensational audience both days – thank you!

I’m looking forward to EuroTek 2012 already. Perhaps I might save some money for the next event and splurge on some of the toys on show – they were mouth watering to say the least. Always good to see the latest and greatest of dive gear, rebreathers and scooters.