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PHUKET: Lock on your tanks and load that gear on the boat because the Phuket diving high season is officially here. This year’s season was ushered in with the annual ruckus parties and dive show equipment suppliers, all brought to the industry pros of the entire Andaman region by Dive Supply and Aqua Master.

Free flow drinks and all-you-can-eat grub enthusiastically marked an upcoming season of bounty.

The members of the dive business that weathered the patchy low season and the economic troubles it can bring to both established and new companies took full advantage of the hospitality by both Dive Supply and Aqua Master.

The revelry got kicked off with a twist this year as Carl Webb, the marketing manager for Dive Supply, splashed out for a massive American Western themed hoedown complete with complimentary cowboy hats, catering by Sala Mexicana and a mechanical rodeo bull.

However, everything wasn’t all sun and dust, as representatives from Suunto, Scubapro, Bauer Compressors and Intova were all present to walk attendees through the new equipment developments – making sure new features and add-ons could be explained to the rest of us in the diving world when we start poking around our local dive shop.

From Intova, Joe Ganahl was present, walking dive company owners through the advantages of using the new Sport 10k for the rental market. Intova, hot on the heels of GoPro in the extreme sports camera world, brought the Sport 10k with an underwater housing set for recreational limits (40 meters) to the dive industry as an affordable solution for rental cameras, which often suffer the hardships of any rental gear.

Also at the event, Suunto and Scubapro launched three deals.

Suunto is now throwing in a free transmitter with purchases of a variety of different types of air integrated computers, while Scubapro is handing out a free octopus (not the animal) with their MK25/S600 regulator and also running a “full set” special.

“This is the only opportunity we have to gather the dive community in big numbers. It was a successful show, we were able to bring everyone together to talk a little business and have a lot of fun,” Mr Webb said.

Earlier that day at Aqua Master Brendon and Liz Singer had given a lecture on a new six-month campaign for tracking the decreasing number of shark sightings in Thailand (click here for article). By this time, as the sun was starting to fade, the optimism over new prospects, new challenges and new gear seemed to pervade the party.

However, despite the time and crowd, it was possible to still see the Aqua Master’s new equipment setup for the female Phuket day-trip diver.

“After thorough research and testing, we recognized a gap in the marketplace for dive gear that specifically meets women’s scuba diving needs,” said Michael Wehrle, Southeast Asia regional manager for Aqua Lung International. “We tapped into the insight of our international team of female divers, water enthusiasts and active individuals who are driven by their passion for the sport of diving.”

Though improperly gendered to give honest feedback on the equipment, it is clear that Aqua Master has looked over all the details to ensure that even the little irritating issues, such as long hair getting awkwardly caught up in your head band, won’t even wreck a moment of the dive.

With a stretch of sunny days, equipment deals and having spent the “green season” flicking through dive magazines and heart-wrenchingly beautiful photos of the world beneath the waves, everyone – pros, expats and tourists – can happily head back to calmer waters and take the plunge.

News brief: Sea Bees wins national award for excellence

The recent Thailand Tourism Awards 2013 honored a dive company among the seven businesses and projects for ” Awards for Outstanding Performance”.

Sea Bees Diving, one of the most well-known and established dive companies in Phuket, found itself among an eclectic field of winners ranging from historical renovation projects to resorts.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, but also very positive to see how much the Committee Members focused on the environment during their visit and assessment of our operations,” Holger Schwab, the owner and Managing Director, said.

“To receive recognition for how our fleet operates, that small dive groups are beneficial to the reefs and marine life and that the environment does not have to be compromised when it comes to service is something we have aimed for constantly over the years,” Mr Schwab said.

Keep checking our Phuket Lifestyle pages for the latest features from across the island. Join our Facebook fan page or follow us at @PhuketGazette.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli