Society Today

Simon Chance

Simon R. Chance, Manager
PADI International Resort & Retailer Associations & PADI Diving Society

More new Society Partners!

The first half of 2007 has seen terrific growth in Society member benefits, including some really exciting offers from major industry and non-industry Society Partners:

Volvo 
Images courtesy of Volvo Cars (UK)

PADI Driving Society – in Association with Volvo Cars (UK)

Whatever one’s position on environmental issues, cars are largely a simple fact of life at present (although I’ve recently discovered a great alternative for short journeys – more to follow in a future issue!)

For most of us divers in particular, there’s always a fair amount of kit to haul around the country, as we aim for our favourite dive sites or hunt out some new ones. That usually means we need a decent dive wagon, however unless we are lucky enough to have a car for every day of the week – each a specialist vehicle for a specific purpose – we’re going to be looking for more than just a load lugger; something that can also be used for everyday running around, shopping, taking the kids to the park, or even taking one’s partner for a posh supper on Valentine’s day.

One manufacturer that seems to understand our needs and lifestyle very well is Volvo. As divers, we tend to focus on safety and reliability, while still pursuing fun and excitement and looking after the environments in which we dive – and, while we can find ourselves in some fairly unpleasant conditions from time to time, if we are honest we will usually want to add as much comfort to the experience as possible! Volvo aligns closely with this mindset; with a long-established reputation for safety and reliability, legendary lugging capacity (Volvo estates have been very much the chariot of choice for caravanners over many years), a comfortable “office” inside for driver and passengers, and with an approach to overall design which is constantly developing and improving on each success, in many ways one can picture more than a few sets of regulators hanging in the Volvo corporate garage!

However, perhaps the most telling evidence of Volvo’s corporate diver-friendliness is that, with immediate effect, I can announce Volvo’s acceptance of the PADI Diving Society’s members into their Corporate Affinity programme structure – thereby providing benefits for Society members, of at least 6 months’ standing, when purchasing a new Volvo from participating Volvo franchise dealerships across the UK! The exact benefits will differ across the range, however they include discounts of up to 15% depending on the model chosen, plus free metallic paint options and even extended service plans.

Volvo’s Corporate Affinity programmes work through a level of support from Volvo Cars (UK) (provided directly through a Corporate Sales Customer Agreement with PADI International Ltd. and the PADI Diving Society), which is also backed up with further benefits being provided by the dealership from where the car is purchased. Members will need to quote an Affinity programme reference number to the salesman at their dealership, which will be communicated separately to all current members of the Society together with further details of this important new Society benefit; if you are a current member and have not received this information directly, please drop me a line to pds@padi.co.uk so we can ensure this valuable information reaches you. If you want to know more about Volvo cars, or how the Corporate Affiinity programme works, why not contact Gareth Bottomley, Fleet Sales Manager at programme “drivers” Harratts Volvo directly? Gareth can be reached on 0114-270-1400, or by eMail at g.bottomley@harratts.co.uk – or why not take a peek at Harratts’ website www.harratts.co.uk for directions to the showroom if you want to drop in and say g’day? I am sure Gareth and his team will be happy to grab you a coffee and run through some tall diving tales!

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Volvo
Images courtesy of Volvo Cars (UK)

PADI Diving Society Member Draw – in Association with Volvo Cars (UK)

To celebrate the arrival of this major new Society Partner, the generous people at Harratts Volvo in Sheffield have offered a draw prize of a “Car for the Weekend”, providing a top-of-the-range XC90 over an entire weekend for the lucky winner. The draw entry period runs from now until September 31st, after which the draw will be made by Harratts’ Fleet Sales Manager Gareth Bottomley, at the Harratts showrooms in Sheffield. Once the winner has been notified, and a weekend agreed at least 7 days in advance, the car will be delivered to their door and picked up; all that will be required before arranging delivery will be to verify that the winner holds a current, valid UK driving licence, and is insured to drive the vehicle. By the time this goes to press, entry details and full terms and conditions should be available at www.padidivingsociety.co.uk, however if you would like further information please send an eMail to pdsdraw@padi.co.uk, or contact us at our Freepost address and we will send hard-copy information for you by surface mail.

Look for further information about this exciting new Society member draw, and good luck to all!

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 O'Neill
Images courtesy of Marc Prefontaine & O’Neill

From Now On, I Know Jack!

No, I don’t mean I have become a person of limited understanding, although others who know me may believe that to be true; rather, I am delighted to announce the O’Neill brand, developed by Industry father Jack O’Neill, has now joined us to bring further benefits to PADI Diving Society members!

With immediate effect, all full Bronze, Silver and Gold level members can claim a free ONeill “Skins” rash vest worth £20, with any purchase of an O’Neill Sector 5mm wetsuit. The rash vests are short-sleeved and come in either Crew- or Turtle-necked styles, and apart from looking very stylish they also form an ideal additional thermal layer, making them perfect partners for your new wetsuit.

While the 5mm category has gained considerable popularity with freedivers and divers alike, O’Neill’s new Sector 5mm is described as being “in a category by itself – the most innovative, comfortable, and warm 5mm available”. Looking through the spec’ sheet, it combines “Firewall” insulating-fibre jersey on the interior to increase warmth where needed most, “Fluid Seam” panel weld technology (a silicon-based lightweight, non-chafing, waterproof urethane seal with flexibility described as “insane”!), “Code Red” urethane-coated zippers for minimal water movement in that crucial area, and “Ultraflex DS” neoprene which is manufactured specifically to O’Neill’s strict and demanding specifications, including a durable outer skin to resist Velcro™ pulls and snags. Shin pads are designed into the construction, as are other clever and practical features such as the hidden key pocket so you won’t have to balance that key on the front tyre any more!

 

More about O’Neill and O’Neill Wetsuits

The name Jack O’Neill has been synonymous with surfing since the early fifties, when pioneering Jack started racking up firsts in that particular field, however Jack has also been a diver almost as long as he has been a surfer – and he’s never been one to neglect his fellow sportsters. His early work in developing the wetsuit we know and love today was built on a single desire; Jack and his friends were surfing off Santa Cruz, and diving the cold waters of Monterey Bay, and they wanted to extend their season as long as possible. Dismissing WW2 surplus frogmen suits and looking more to the future, Jack started to experiment with unicellular plastic, foam linings and so forth until he struck Neoprene, from which point the challenge now became how to make the most of this almost ideal product. Designs developed quickly, and well-known names such as the “Long John”, now generic, were coined in the O’Neill R&D department – which has always consisted of real people, wearing real suits, and doing their “real thing” while on or under the water.

Over 50 years later, this R&D philosophy is still strong within the O’Neill brand, and it was interesting to hear that the O’Neill research facility is affectionately termed “Area 52”, reflecting not only its 50+ years of operation, but also its close relationship with the manufacturing process. This is made possible because Area 52 lies within O’Neill manufacturing facilities, so innovations and developments are brought directly into the process rather than being farmed out to remote subcontractors (who, O’Neill feel, will not have been involved in the process, and therefore cannot share the same depth of understanding in the unique importance of each step).

Another O’Neill development philosophy, to which they hold true at all times, is that they have retained a focus on the cornerstone of wetsuit performance – fit – as a poor fit can nullify any other performance feature. As a result, they have constantly updated their sizing models over the whole fifty-plus years in the business, which has allowed their engineering team to develop what they firmly believe to be the most precise system of size grading in the industry. This proprietary technology is carefully guarded in the vaults of Area 52, but is available to all by simply trying on an O’Neill wetsuit.

As their brochure states, they “dare you to compare”!

All images courtesy O’Neill Wetsuits Limited except where stated otherwise. For more information on the ONeill range of diving wetsuits, or to find your nearest O’Neill Wetsuits dealer, contact Tom Copsey at tcopsey@oneill.com, telephone +44-(0) 1730-811460, or visit www.oneilldive.com.

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Raymarine
Images courtesy Raymarine (UK) Ltd.

A Ray of Happiness – New Society Benefits from Raymarine!

Smart on the inside, simple on the outside – no, not me or Mark Evans (sorry Mark), this is actually how Raymarine – our latest Society Partner, bringing you even more benefits – describe their design philosophy when putting new products together.

Raymarine designs, manufactures and distributes electronic goods and related software for use in leisure boating and light commercial environments, and with over 30 years of continuous experience Raymarine is a world leader in this market, offering a highly comprehensive range of marine electronic goodies. If you’ve been on a RIB or other boat dive in the UK in the last few years, chances are there was a Raymarine VHF Radio, Depth Sounder, Log/Speedo, Fish Finder or even Chart Plotter helping out along the way; and if you’ve ever fancied some Raymarine kit for your own (or your club’s) boat, Raymarine are now offering a whopping 20% discount to qualifying PADI Diving Society members, off any product in their current price list up to £3,000 total RRP purchase value – a potential saving of £600 quid, which should leave some room in your wallet for that new drysuit you’ve been promising yourself!

Raymarine’s A series units are particularly popular with the small-boat market, having been designed specifically with a compact footprint, and able to be either flush-mounted into a dashboard or in a bracket for easy dismounting and removal where open-boat security may be an issue. The A65 unit pictured is demonstrating one of its split-screen modes on the 6.5”, sunlight-viewable, high-resolution VGA TFT screen, showing highly detailed depth information from the optional state-of-the-art sounder and fishfinder, together Charting information fed from its GPS receiver; as well as being able to display information from the optional Depthsounder/Fishfinder transducer, the A65 is primarily a fully-featured Chartplotter, using leading Navionics software to present constantly updated position information in a configurable full-colour chart display. All housed in a rugged, submersible housing, when teamed with the patented High Definition fishfinder – which automatically adjusts more than 220 sonar parameters every second to deliver superior fish detection and bottom discrimination – the A65 is the perfect RIB or diveboat companion; with 1000 waypoints and 50 routes stored on-board, and unlimited storage using CompactFlash cards, these units will help you to find that wreck and return to it every time – even when the British spring fogs are obscuring those secret never-fail waypoints which are handed down from dive leader to dive leader in clubs across the land!

Larger vessels (say around 35 feet) may want to look toward Raymarine’s C series units, which share many of the features of the A series but with larger viewing screens and some very nifty additional party tricks; they can receive & display Navtex information, show the output from Radar feeds (and yes, Raymarine make class-leading radars too!), network with Raymarine and other compatible instruments and even monitor engine data, as they are compatible with other NMEA 2000 data sharing devices. You can even plan your journey at home using RayTech software, then plug in the plan on the boat using a Compact Flash card and have your C series Raymarine unit drive you around by “talking” to your Raymarine Autopilot. And if you’re lucky enough to be playing with an even larger toy, the E and G series start to offer some full networking options, even taking video input so any on-board camera feeds such as engine room monitors – or even a Raymarine satellite TV for the really big stuff – can be viewed together with chart, radar, fishfinder and instrument inputs on their user-customizable high-bright displays. About the only thing they can’t do is make & receive calls for you on your Raymarine VHF radio; just imagine your Chartplotter keeping a safe track of your position, your Radar keeping you out of trouble by telling you the positions of other shipping around you, the Fishfinder telling you what’s going on below you, and the TV telling you what’s happening on Corrie.

Very cool indeed.

So OK, clearly I’m impressed with the whiz-bang gadgetry, but I’ve also learned one additional, intangible edge that sets Raymarine apart and helps to earn them their “World Leaders” soubriquet. They’re not just making this stuff because it makes a boat look fully swept-up if it has loads of electronics around the helmsman’s position; they are driven by the significant contribution all this gear can make to safety at sea, and have partnered on many occasions with other maritime agencies to promote a wider understanding of this fact among mariners. They have even developed a dedicated on-all-the-time man-overboard alert system called LifeTag, which sounds an alarm if any crew member (including the family dog, if suitably equipped) strays out of range of the base station; further, since LifeTag is SeaTalk compatible, it will automatically place a symbol on the C+ series chart plotters, calculating range and bearing back to that point to dramatically increase the chances of a successful recovery.

An enticing range of sophisticated gadgetry, a genuine concern for the safety of those who go to sea in ships, and now a potential saving of up to £600 for PADI Diving Society members. Thanks, Raymarine!

Raymarine 

To claim your PADI Diving Society discount, present your PADI Diving Society membership card to any Raymarine approved Service Dealer when making your purchase. Please note that verification with the Society may be required by the Raymarine dealer, who will also need to install systems other than handheld radios and A series products, and installation is not discounted under this programme. For further information on Raymarine and Raymarine products, visit www.raymarine.com.


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Orange 

Our Future Just Became a Little Brighter…

…with a SIM card and £30 of text credit, absolutely free!

Along similar lines to the apocryphal story about London buses, new Society benefits seem to be coming along all together at present. Hot on the heels of our new partnerships with Volvo Cars (UK), Raymarine and O’Neill Wetsuits, I am delighted to announce that we have now been joined also by the Orange people – and no, I don’t mean a tribe of Oompah Loompahs; I am, of course, referring to Orange, the well-known communications giant.

“Pay-as-you-go” mobile ‘phone users may be familiar with Orange’s market-leading free SIM card programme, offering up to 1000 free texts depending on the level of top-up; however, Orange are offering to boost that bonus for Society members, by adding a whopping 300 free texts on your free SIM for the first month – that’s a full £30 value, entirely free of charge, and exclusive to you as a member of the PADI Diving Society. What's more, calls made on this SIM will be on Orange’s flat rate tariff, Speak Easy, which means your calls cost only 15p per minute to any UK mobile or landline, and normal text messages (once you’ve used up your generous free allowance) are only 10p each. Furthermore, when you top-up by at least £20 in a month, you'll also get free evening and weekend mobile internet browsing. This allows you to access sites such as BBC and Google® direct form your mobile ‘phone, useful for last minute weather reports before you set off for a dive!

There are loads of other great things about being with Orange, regardless of how much you top-up – like “Orange Wednesdays” for example, whereby you can enjoy 2-for-1 cinema tickets every week by simply texting FILM to 241 from your Orange SIM. Perfect for all these Summer blockbusters, a new one of which seems to be announced weekly at present!

Quite apart from this saving, the offer of a free SIM brings additional potential benefits. As an example, having a mobile ‘phone on coastal RIB or other boat dives is a genuine contribution to improved diver safety, providing direct access to the emergency services should an accident occur, or even simply providing the opportunity to let shore-based companions know of a change in plans if you decide to haul out at a different location (or need to, due to changing weather or sea states!) However, rather than risking your posh new RIZR, Prada or N95 on RIB journeys – which, let’s face it, can be a little, er, damp at times – you can leave this safely tucked up in the boot or glove compartment (of your new Volvo, perhaps?) and use your free SIM in an old or cheaper handset. That way you retain the benefit of staying in touch while out on the water, but there’s less heartbreak if your communication device ends up in the Oggin, or under a runaway cylinder.

Not that there’s ever been an unsecured cylinder incident on any dive boat I’ve ever been on, of course. Oh no indeed. Absolutely not. Honest…

Moving quickly along, then, I expect you’ll want to know how to grab hold of this new benefit, and again I am very pleased to announce that the routine is simplicity itself; all you need to do is to visit the special PADI Diving Society area on the Orange website (see full URL below), enter your details and your free SIM will be posted out to you. Of course, should you wish to transfer your existing mobile number onto the SIM, that’s easy enough also – instructions on how to do this will be provided with your free SIM when you receive it, and I understand that the transfer process usually takes as little as a week to complete.

So there we have it; another great benefit to enhance your PADI Diving Society membership, all thanks to those nice people at Orange!

Visit www.orange.co.uk/padifreesim to claim your free Orange SIM card.

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Fourth Element 

Society Benefits from Fourth Element!

As a reminder to renewing PADI Diving Society members, and an announcement to new members, there are two excellent benefits on offer for Society members from divecool gurus Fourth Element!

For the trendsetters among you, Cornwall-based Fourth Element – producers of stylish, practical divewear and technical diving products – are still offering a free “xerotherm” hat from their Fourth Element Technical range (worth £16), or a t-shirt of your choice from their current range (a £19.99 value), with any purchase over £60 from a Fourth Element stockist.

Fourth Element began in 1999 with a post-dive conversation in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt. Their aim was to design and provide divers with high quality casual and technical diving clothing, which had a simple yet distinctly diving-oriented style. With Fourth Element’s founders having backgrounds in design and human physiology, they were in a good position to achieve their aims – but still spent a year and a half researching designs and fabrics for their launch range, to ensure the clothing was everything they wanted it to be for their customers. Using the latest fabric technology in unique combinations and designs, the Fourth Element Technical range in particular revolutionises thermal protection for both Wetsuit and Drysuit diving, being designed around the principles of performance, function and innovation.

Fourth Element have been great supporters of the PADI Diving Society for a number of years now, adding to the overall value of this unique partnership. Look for more information on Fourth Element soon, and meanwhile enjoy this great offer for you, from a generous PADI Diving Society partner!

*** Your Fourth Element benefit: A free t-shirt worth £19.99, or free xerotherm hat worth £16, with any qualifying Fourth Element purchase over £60 (www.fourthelement.com, 01326-241404).

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Tornado 

Society Benefits from Tornado Marine Fleet

The Tornado Marine fleet is now a Society Partner, offering direct benefits to PADI Diving Society members! With immediate effect, all current Society members will be able to claim a direct 5% discount on all bookings with Tornado Marine, which are made via their sole UK agent Tony Backhurst (see benefits section for contact information). This generous offer provides not only a great incentive to shrug off the winter blues – preparing, perhaps, for some summer diving here in the UK with some spectacular shakedown dives, while enjoying the “yachtie” liveaboard lifestyle – but also provides Society members with yet another way to save back their membership fees!

For those not familiar with the Tornado Marine fleet, they have been operating in the Egyptian Red Sea since 1989, expanding operations into the Sudan late last year on M/V Royal Emperor, and with a strong customer service ethic they have won awards for “Best Liveaboard of the Year” in consecutive reader-voted surveys for 2003, 2004 and 2005. The fleet currently consists of six vessels, all fully registered with PADI, carrying sophisticated navigation, safety and diving-related equipment, and piloted by experienced Captains supported by dedicated crews. The latest and largest addition to the fleet, M/Y Whilwind, is a brand-new launch; she is 36m long, with an 8m beam, and caters for 20 divers who, after a hard day’s diving, can even enjoy a “sundowner” in the jacuzzi on the upper deck before retiring to her fabulous saloon for their evening repast.

The entire fleet has been planned around divers’ requirements, with considerable care and attention going into the provision of spacious air-conditions interiors, comfortable and roomy sundecks, and of course convenience in the dive deck areas. As well as all the usual mainstream PADI recreational programmes, these is also support for many PADI Specialties – including videography, and the Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty – and indeed the Technical community is also well served, with Nitrox, Trimix and even Inspiration CCR rebreather programmes and try-dives available. They can even arrange a custom-made DVD of your diving holiday, for you to share with friends, family and your (undoubtedly jealous) diving buddies on your return!

I am therefore extremely pleased and proud to have them on board as a Society Partner. For more information regarding the Tornado Marine fleet, visit their website at www.tornadomarinefleet.com, and for bookings contact Tony Backhurst’s team (who, incidentally, were also winners of Tour Operator of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2006) at travel@scuba.co.uk or call 01483-271765.

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pens cufflinks bag square key chain

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

As divers, we’re famous for our love of trinketry – knives, clips, bags, pouches, whatever the accessory, we have a place for it in our dive bag!

Now, as we announced in the pages of Sport Diver magazine a short while ago, a new opportunity has opened up for us to carry that tradition out of the water and into the park, pub, or our professional lives, with the new range of official PADI-branded accessories from BlueCanDo. From cufflinks to keyrings, lip balm to leather wallets, briefcases to book markers, and pin badges to pens, BlueCanDo have assembled an impressive range of goodies which all carry the official PADI brand – identifying you as a diver to fellow aquanauts as clearly as any secret handshake, and demonstrating to lesser non-diving mortals that you may know something they don’t (yet)!

There are over 100 different products in the range, and each has been carefully selected for its originality and quality. Some items can be bespoke to you or your Society chapter, featuring names, ratings and logos, and others provide recognition of your achievements, requiring proof of certification or status when ordering – and, naturally, they make superb prizes or gifts too! These items are available exclusively from BlueCanDo within the service areas of PADI International Ltd., and employ unique manufacturing techniques whereby the logo is captured below a crystal-clear pure resin dome, using a hand-made process and quality management procedures which only accept 100% clarity of resin before the item is passed for sale.

Further, I am delighted to be able to confirm that Dean Bann – a PADI professional in his own right, and the driving force behind BlueCanDo – has very kindly provided some generous savings for Society members, making BlueCanDo the latest Society Partner alongside the Tornado Marine Fleet, Mako Sunglasses, A.H. Risk Management, Suunto (UK) Ltd. and others!

With immediate effect, Bronze and Silver members will receive a 10% discount on all purchases over £10 at BluecanDo’s website, www.bluecando.com, and Gold members will receive an additional 5% (total 15%) when spending over £10 during their visit to the site. Members should note that a special promotional code is required to claim this discount, so please drop me a line at pds@padi.co.uk to obtain your special code!

If you would like further information on the full range of PADI-branded BlueCanDo products to build up your shopping list, visit them at www.bluecando.com (please place link to www.bluecando.com) or call Dean and the team directly on +44 (0)1277-204207 – and look out both is Sport Diver magazine, and here at www.padidivingsociety.co.uk (the new direct link to the Society pages at www.padi.com), for further announcements regarding benefits for Society members!

Please note that PADI-branded accessories from BlueCanDo are only available within areas served by PADI International Limited (PIL). Contact us  for a full list of countries served by PIL.

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