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BSoUP Splash-in 2003

by Andy Clark

It's a hell of a journey to the Mount Batten Centre, Plymouth. 200 miles 'dead on' from my house. Divide that by an average speed of 40 mph in my '74 VW Camper and my calculations offer an arduous five hour journey plus coffee stop.

A journey with a purpose certainly, but what do you do in such a journey? I had no companion and there's only so much radio worth listening to. Save for the regular episode of the Archers and a 40
minute delve into someone else's imagination in the shape of the afternoon play, very little! I lapsed into reverie remembering a chance encounter with a torpedo ray last year. I mused at the reports of basking sharks numbering ten or more, the near perfect vis and confirmation that we enjoyed 'the best weather for four weeks'. I remembered my high hopes of a mention at the evenings trophy giving, and the stark reality of leaving as empty handed as I had arrived. But more than that, I remembered a cracking weekend and another chance to exercise enthusiasm and report on another prestigious affair.

Basking sharks were reported in the local papers at Mount Batten on my arrival. Alan James busied around his impressive Sea and Sea display and offered the use of a D100 and housing to anyone with the inclination to accept. The weather was predicted to be reasonable with a high neap at around 0930 Saturday morning. The Cheshire boys (and girl) arrived early and settled in the restaurant while Peter Tatton and I wondered lazily off to the Boringdon Arms to sample just a few of the local ales of which there were many.

Back at Mount Batten friends and competitors jostled about in a heady mix of anticipation at the weekends' tournament and tales of overseas trips. Enthusiasm faded into fatigue and the merriment of Friday night drifted gently from the bar only to reappear at dawn (ish).

'Go east', was the mornings advice for those of us intending to dive the James Egan Layne. Peports of only 'average' vis would not be helped by the heavy skies that gathered - first hurdle in my cunning, fail-safe plan -switch to macro. The eager crowd bustled about with good humour while chosen film exchanged hands while their numbers were meticulously recorded on entry forms.

Out on the floating pontoon divers thronged, lugging a fantastic array of diving and photographic equipment from car to sea front to pontoon to boot. Alex Mustard more than adequately occupied the role of 'BSoUP's official reporting land photographer', mixing and mingling with all and sundry snapping away whilst boats arrived, got loaded and slowly disappeared into the Sound.

Reports on the James Egon Layne were true. Topside, boot upon boot scrambled about for the all important drop-off point. Beneath the waves my hopes of success trickled away with every metre I descended. The heavy bloom and slight running tide slowly washed away all trace of enthusiasm ? the combination just doesn't do it for me ? the promise of a placing dashed!

Back on deck of the UK National (nice boat and crew but not geared for divers) participants occupied what little space there was with paltry talk of the dive and no indication of expectancy. By what I could gather the widest indication was of disappointment. So much so that some of the party decided against a second dive.

There was talk of cheating amongst the ranks on our return to the Mount Batten Centre. Cheating would you believe? It's true we were a tad late on our return, minutes only I assure you and categorically repute any such allegation. Besides, there were members of our party that would frown most sternly at even the slightest inkling of any such behaviour deeming it's 'Just not cricket!' And 'cricket' Sirs, I assure you it is not!

Another excellent display of prints adorned the exhibition boards. Illustrating varying degrees of excellence in the underwater photography world. 27 British prints and 41 Open prints were hung for selection from an interested gathering of public and participants alike. The excited congregation were encouraged to vote and offer recognition to those of you who worked hard (est) to illustrate the beauty of the underwater world. If the print competition was not on your itinerary, you may have been one of the lucky ones in the 'on the day' slide competitions. And if you're interested in statistics you'll appreciate knowing that the 'Creative' category enticed four entries; 'Macro' received 45 entries; 'Wide-angle' attracted 22 entries and the 'Fish' category had 42 entries. Full results.

And as soon as it was upon us, BSoUP Splash In 2003 faded into Sunday morning. Trophies gathered and glasses returned, the flailing crowd gathered belongings and slowly disappeared into the darkness.
Another momentous event and months of planning and organising peaked and fell away. To those of you who were awarded trophies, congratulations! Those others who took part with ever present enthusiasm, thank you! To the team who devotedly helped with all the arrangements, helped with the days distribution of film, displaying of prints, organising of barbecue, processing of transparencies, projecting, announcements,? awarding of trophies and clearing up, and anything else I've forgotten, a very warm thank you!

But one more acknowledgement before I close, to those of you who looked after me with my self-diagnosed bout of DCI. To Bert Lee in particular for sacrificing a good part of his evening to accompany me to the DDRC. Fortunately, I was announced CLEAR and as such am very HAPPY! Thank you Bert!

Reproduced from in focus 77 (September 2003)

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