J-3 | THE ALIEN OF THE DEEP IS READY!
Glorious day in Santorini!
Today, we had planned 2 dives to finalize the deep training and validate the last modifications made to the sled. The first dive should have taken Herb to 180 meters, the second to 190. But it was quite obvious from the early morning on that Herb felt particularly good today.
As he dressed up in his brand new suit, the offcial one for the record, he was all smiles and amazingly relaxed. Somehow, we all felt really good and confident, with very flat seas, practically no wind and a glorious blue sky over our heads. It was time for the alien of the deep to look at what we expected to be some of the last deep training before to let things cool down in anticipation of next week’s big dives.
The official top was set for 14:30 and Herb started his usual routine of dry breathing and stretching exercises about an hour before. He then slid in the comfort of the suit arrived yesterday and moved into the water for the first warm-ups…
Packing, unpacking, empty lungs down to 10-15 meters, static apnea at depth, ascent, breathing, relaxing, and so forth. Four descents were completed before Kostas assisted him to the sled.
Gosh, everytime I watch Herb moving in position, I can’t help but think of this fabulous movie, “The Right Stuff”. Remember those images of the 1960′s, when technicians are strapping the astronauts into their little tiny seats before to send them right into space? Well, that’s pretty much what we experience as well when Herb gets into the sled and Stelias moves cloes to him for the final preps.
The team routine is now amazingly well organized as well. Check lists are barely spoken out. Every one knows exactly what he has to do when. Comes the moment where Herb gives us the final 2 minutes countdown. Markus positions the winch and the sled at the right level. Countdown reaches one minute. The launchpad is cleared. Only Stelias stays close to Herb to fulfill his last task, which I like to call pushing the red button.
The sled starts going down to 15 meters, where Herb fills up the A-quix bottle with as much air as possible. Stelias pulls on the quick release carabiner. Herbert vanishes into the deep blue, the yellow sled almost leaving a track in the water like the fumes of a rocket.
On the boat and in the water, each team member is fully concentrated. Markus is in charge of the run time, shouts out loud as seconds goes by and various maneuvers have to be performed.
At a precise point, Kostas finalizes his breathing and freedives to 40 meters where the Gentil brothers are waiting for Herb on scuba, lights on, ready to shoot his exit out of the sled. On the surface, only time gives an indication of what’s happening deep down under the hull. Seconds seem minutes, minutes seem hours. Suddenly, the sled flies out of the water propelled by the air volume at its top. Herb can’t be far behind.
Then Kostas surfaces, gives us the okay signal. Herb is on deco, all is well, another perfectly smooth dive has been completed. Another few minutes go by, before our alien of the deep reaches the surface, still with the oxygen regulator in his mouth. Eyes shining, Herbert is back from another one of his trips into the mysterious zone that he is the only man in the world to enter.
On his Liquivision computer, the message is clear. Herb felt so good down there that he decided to go beyong the maximum depth planned for the second dive. A second dive which won’t even take place as he returns from an astonishing 196 meters dive!
This is it for today. We have now reached the point where no more dives can be completed without our full emergency support ready to go. And Herbert himself feels there is no need to face unnecessary exposure either. At this stage, he knows and we know as well we can trust his feelings and instincts about it.
Tomorrow will see Herb focusing on some dry training, while the rest of the team works on some more details and practices emergency drills. We can all feel we have reached a turning point in this prep phase. The timing is right. The sensations are good. We’re now really, really close to the edge which will see Herb blow another world record.
From this side of things, it will be an opportunity to transcript the visualisation I had Herbert speak out lout for me today. We’ll take you through every step of what goes down in his mind while he rides and steers the sled into the abyss and up.
We’re real close. It’s a great feeling for us all and we’re glad to share with all of you out there!