Sebastian Murat has been trying to organize events and competitions with many new approaches to freediving. In spring 2007 he tried to organize a CNF competition at Ibiza that would involve no equipment (only noseplug), and a new safety system that does not involve a line. Even though there were Aida ranking and a big cash prize (that could be won by anyone) very few registered. Freedivers just love their suits.
A new approach
Murats is heavily into dive techniques that will trigger the Dive response (most freedivers get very little DR), this involves no mask and no suit. His arguments for the no equipment competition also had to do with mediastrategy. Sebastien Murat says: "freediving doesn't sell because its inpersonal. Divers with all their gear may feel good, sexy or like a hero on the inside, but that's not how the audience seems them, especially if they were a hood and any facial equipment. That only makes them like non/persons. We can't sell that to the media. Mayol did well because you could 'see' him, you had empathy for him because his exposed face expressed emotion, apart from being one of the firsts. That's what I believe gets the media interested."
A second attempt to stage a highprofile competition failed during the same period. In cooperation with a greek hotel Murat wanted to invite the ten best freedivers in the world and put them in an environment where they could do world record attempts.
Many believe this is something that competetive freediving needs if it wants to get into the sportschannels. Murat does not believe that champions of freediving can aquire enough media attention by going off doing their own thing. Not even the team world championships are high-profiled enough he says. "It dilutes the stars". In spring 2007 some 10-15 of the worlds top freedivers where approached by Murat. Five star accomodation and food was free for the athlete and a coach, some of the best were offered flighttickets. Since mainstream media was involved (stations with global reach) Murat wanted commitment to attendance (a deposition of 500 euro that would be refunded upon arrival) and a signed contract to the TV-station. Some of the athletes had demands that Murat could not (did not want to?) meet and in the end too few of the atheletes did commit. Since very deep dives were planned some athletes were not satisfied with the drums system (a system Murat himself has trusted with his life down to 150 meters and deeper).
Deeper and safer
Murats heart seems to be in the really deep dives. He is currently (2007) involved in a TV-documentary (global TV-channel) that will involve really deep ballast dives. To achieve this he needs to work with athletes that get medical clearance (for insurance policies). He is also totally convinced that his invented DRUM system is the safest retrieval system. To say it out bluntly: Murat thinks the No-limit dives so far has been unprofessional. So far a lot of the safety issues has been placed in the hands of the athlete himself (narced athletes opening tanks at 160 meters of depth). Herbert Nitsch, the current champion of the depth, is pursuing 700 feet during 2007. He is experimenting with a bouyancy system that is permantly inflated and will bring a BO athlete back to the surface without actions from the athlete.
Murat believes that all decisions about the athletes safety should be taken from the surface. Some years back (2002) he wrote several rules guiding his own deepdiving. Some of the issues he adressed stated that:
1) There must be no delay in effecting an ascent.
2) A diver can not be relied upon to start their own ascent in time.
3) There should be no delay in deployment of first and second resuesystems (launched at the same time).
4) Surface personell must always know exactly where the diver is in the water column.
5) Surface personal must be able to abort a dive at any time during the dive
6) Heavy and fast moving weights are not optimal for rescuesystems.
7) A sonar should surveil the dive area.
It is not unlikly that these rules could have saved Loic le Ferm. Even though what happened to Loic has not been fully understood, it seems that the lust for depth is unreplenished. 2007 will take freedivers to new depths.