J-5 | A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES
Today we had the pleasure of a very special visitor on board, Gerhard Nitsch, Herbert’s father. Strange situation to see father and son discussing the upcoming event. Impressing to see how Gerhard is taking part in Herbert’s success by doing a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes, administration, contracts, liability releases, and so forth and so on. What an amazing person, although you may well imagine how hard it might be for him to think of next week and the challenges facing Herbert… Obviously I could not miss the opportunity to ask him a few questions, among which the one he probably heard the most in his life: what is it like to be Herbert Nitsch’s father?
“Well everytime I’m asked this question, my answer is the same: how would you feel seeing your child disappear into the abyss? I cannot hold my breath as long as he does, but yes, somehow I guess I’m doing it everytime he goes down on such a dive. I’m trying to help behind the scenes, but it doesn’t mean I’m not worried when he is diving. He’s doing a very precise job and, as a pilot, has been educated to handle risks and safety properly. But, well, as a father you stay worried and I’m probably more concerned than anybody else out there. Whether he is competing in other categories of freediving does not make a difference. It’s not the environment of the dive that changes anything. But I’d rather be on the scene as a witness and participant, than sitting at home, waiting for news of Herbert. At least I can help with things, be of assistance to him. Better being part of it than a spectator. I’ll hold my breath and will be worried until it’s all over, and he’s back on the surface in good shape. I’m very, very proud of Herbert’s success and thank also all the people who are following him, also making this possible thanks to the attention his dives are gaining!”
Yip, not easy to be father and spectator of such an endeavor. So we took it easy today and did not go for any big deep dive. Another few tiny modifications were made by Markus on the sled and we focused today on the A-quix, i.e. the famous bottle which allows Herbert to equalize at depth when there is absolutely no air left in his totally compressed lungs. What Herb calls easy diving does not prevent him from dropping to 99m, but then again, it sounds like little when looking at what’s coming up.
On popular request, I promise to dedicate one of these posts very soon to a complete run down of the dive and the procedures implemented. Part of the task today was also to validate all the team tasks sharing, finalize check-lists, ensure almost no verbal communication is required and things run just as smoothly as they have to.
Also on the list today, finalizing the emergency plan. It would be simply absurd to plan such a dive without serious saftey procedures and a complete evacuation plan. It is not only required for the record dives, but also for the upcoming training days. Up to a certain point (around 150m), we know Herbert can make it up on his own should the sled and the winch both fail at the same time. But as we get deeper now, we need to cover all ends and before to hit the 200m mark on training, a full drill will be run from faking a loss of consciousness at depth to heading for land on a speed boat and meeting the evac team.
Nothing is or will be left to chance. It’s hard work, but Herb and all of us here need to feel 200% confident that there is no single leak in the risk managament procedures. And part of risk management when diving every day includes getting a good night of sleep…
So, we’ll leave you here for today, back with more tomorrow as usual!