Most underwater photographers must fondly dream of
representing their country at the World Championship event. I was
therefore extremely flattered to be informed in August by BSoUP's
Chairman, Brian Pitkin, that I had been selected with Les Kemp for
this year's event, only the third in the series.
The competition was due to be held in Milazzo,
Sicily, between the 19-24th September, so we had only 4-5 weeks to
prepare. It was at this stage that the daunting nature of the event
began to dawn on us! Each country was to field two underwater
photographers, two underwater models and two assistants. We therefore
immediately secured the services of two attractive young ladies,
Diana Davies from Torquay and Amanda Levick from Eastbourne, to act
as models, whilst our equally attractive wives, Sussana and Diana
were enrolled as assistants. We expected that models and props would
be used extensively, as the seas around Milazzo offer very little in
the way of marine life.
The British and Irish teams joined forces in London
for the journey to Sicily, which was uneventful once we had coped
with the surprises of the security staff at Gatwick at seeing so much
odd equipment and even stranger props. Once we arrived we found that
the organisation was typically Mediterranean, which meant that most
timings were open ended!
On Day 1 of the competition the photographers were
allowed a reconnaissance dive, without cameras, to identify possible
locations for the next two days. Some local teams had been in the
area for the preceding week and therefore had a shrewd idea of the
desired areas, which they vehemently guarded throughout the event!
Les Kemp and I found sites fairly close to each other, so we would be
able to render assistance if necessary.
Each photographer was given four rolls of film from
which to produce a portfolio of six different images, one of which
had to be an experimental technique and not more than one a straight
macro shot. Time for the two sessions was restricted to five hours
each and each photographer had only one fifteen litre bottle of air.
Careful planning for each shot and lens change etc was therefore
Day 2 dawned sunny and calm as the thirty-two
photographers from sixteen countries carried their masses of
equipment down to the beach to board their individual boats with
models and assistants. The armada then set off for the competition
area, where a signal was given for the event to commence. There
followed a mad dash to the various sites. Les Kemp unfortunately
found that the Italian team had already laid claim to his chosen
location! For my part, we found that our site was now beset with a
one knot current, where it had been totally slack at the same time
the day before! However, there was no time to stop and think, so we
pushed ahead with the planned shots.
Films from the first session were returned in the
evening, so that we were able to judge successes and failures and
plan for the next day. Unfortunately Neptune had decided to throw a
spanner in the works and produced a strong wind on Day 2 which
excluded all the original sites. The armada therefore proceeded to
reserve sites, which were grossly inferior and heavily silted. A
large number of competitors descended on three or four locations and
the requirement to keep a radius of twenty metres between teams was
quickly forgotten in the search for at least one reasonable shot. The
day ended with with most of the photographers feeling thoroughly
dejected and disappointed.
We never-the-less made our selections of six slides
and submitted them to the jury. We had the rest of the day to relax
and ponder what the jury would be looking for as subject matter and
techniques. Some of us spent the time watching the World record
holding deep free diver Pippin make an abortive attempt to reach 94
metres on one breath, which nearly ended in tragedy for him. This
left us to reflect on the wisdom and reasoning for such attempts as
we prepared for the gala evening and prize giving. The results were
in fact leaked before our arrival at the theatre, which rather took
the edge off our anticipation. All of the competitors portfolios were
projected prior to the official announcements and awards.
I st Frederic Di Meglio, France
2nd Marc Debatty, France
3rd Alberto Muropelliconi, Italy
Frederic Di Meglio France
Best Experimental technique
Francesco Taccrni Italy
1st Frederic Di Meglio and Marc Debatty,
2nd Francesco Taccmi and Alberto Muropelliconi, Italy
3rd Andreas Koffka and Milan Czapay, Germany
So no laurels for Great Britain on this occasion,
although we were informed that the standard of entry was extremely
close to the winners. The whole event was a unique and enjoyable
experience for all of us and our thanks go to BSoUP and the BSAC for
sponsoring our travel expenses and to West Wet Suits, AP Valves and
Sea and Sea for their kind support with diving equipment. BSoUP
members must now start planning for some stunning images for the next
event in 1992.
[Britain's representatives to the CMAS World
Championships, LES KEMP and MARK WEBSTER, were two of several
accomplished underwater photographers nominated by BSoUP's Committee
for consideration, pending availability. Not surprisingly, given the
short notice of the date of the event, most of the nominees were
unable to participate due to work commitments or holiday plans.
BSoUP and the BSAC generously sponsored the cost of
flights to Sicily for the photographers and their models.
Accommodation, meals and diving were kindly provided by the Italian
LES KEMP will be interviewed by Radio Sussex on
Wednesday 17 October at 7.30 p.m. following his recent participation
with MARK WEBSTER in the CMAS World Championship. Ed.]
Reproduced from in focus 38 by kind permission of Mark