Birmingham NEC, 21st & 22nd October 2017
With the approaching “weather bomb” attributed to storm Brian blowing out all of the South coast dive opportunities, the Dive Show was the perfect alternative to actually going diving.
Presentations, stands with new gear, kit sales and the opportunity to talk diving for a whole weekend! Here is my little write up about the experience from a diver’s perspective.
The weekend began with the relatively short drive from Bristol to the NEC in Birmingham. With parking and tickets booked in advance entrance was straightforward, but there were tickets and parking available on the day for those who left it a little late to book. I entered the hall and came face to face with the ‘new product showcase’ which is always worth a little look. There were regs from Apeks and Scubapro, fins from Tusa and exciting dive tools on show from Pandora Lab which caught my attention, amongst plenty of other new shiny items.
Blue O Two were next with a big stand, a showcase of some exciting dive destinations and two versions of their new website for users to explore and provide feedback. This was a great way to test two possible layouts of the site, interact with their customers, and I even left with a free mug as a thank you for completing their questionnaire. It’s currently filled with coffee as I sit and type this up…
If possible holiday destinations are of interest to you the Dive Show really does give you plenty to think about. In addition to the larger operators like Blue O Two there are plenty of other operators looking to attract you to their location including centres from Aqaba and the Azores through to Sulawesi and Utila plus most places in between.
I certainly gained a few ideas for future club dive holidays, as well as catching up with centres we’ve used before like Maltaqua and Pro Dive Mexico.
In addition to looking around the stands for new kit and dive destinations there was a varied line up of talks going on across multiple stages. I had the pleasure of catching quite a few over the weekend, including Rachel Butler’s talk on the upcoming Blue Planet 2, and Martin Farr’s cave diving presentation – I even managed to leave with a signed copy of his totally rewritten book ‘The Darkness Beckons’ which I’m looking forward to working my way through. There were also talks on the Tek Deck stage with topics including kit configuration and solo diving through to a gradient factors workshop and CCR comparisons. I didn’t get the chance to check out any of the photography talks but these were running all day, as were events organised by PADI and BSAC, so there was something to listen to for everyone.
The Dive Show closed at 6pm on Saturday evening, but that is never the end for the day. Some of the Dive Show parties are known to be lively, and this year was no different. There were events hosted by PADI, BSAC, Sport Diver magazine and I’m sure a few more too. If you’re visiting the show for both days you certainly want to find your way to one of these, and keep chatting diving all night!
Sunday arrived, and I had the pleasure of helping out a few friends who were looking for advice on new kit purchases. With so many manufacturers in one place, as well as retailers offering some good deals it can be a great place to check out your options. We visited stands by Apeks, X-Deep, Tecline, Santi, Otter Dry Suits and plenty more. Some manufactures weren’t exhibiting this year, such as Scubapro and Oceanic / Hollis, which did surprise me, but even without these there was a wide variety of equipment to play with.
Throughout the weekend I also spent a lot of time checking out the technical dive kit on show, including lots of different rebreathers. The show is a great place to go for checking out different units, and I was pleased to have a good look at the Revo, SF2, JJ-CCR and also check out the new developments on the AP Diving range of rebreathers of which I’m familiar. There was even a tech try dive pool, with rebreather try dives taking place!
With deals for kit done, signed books safely in my bag and my voice fading slightly from two days of almost non-stop talking, it was time to wrap up Dive 2017 and head home. For me, this was a really great event, with plenty to offer everyone from non-diver through to tech divers and instructors. There is always talk of the show shrinking and it was a little smaller than previous years, but the enthusiasm from all involved to put on a great event was plain to see, and I’ll certainly be back for next year, which is held over the weekend of the 27th & 28th October 2018.