DIR-GER, cryptic acronym, but a great event

- By Maren Isigkeit

Here I am - the first scooter race of my life, and my fingers are freezing. The water temperature of 3°C does not make it easier to efficiently deploy the lift bag. Still I manage to send it up quickly, and my buddy Totti hands over the double ender to fasten the spool to the platform - team work at its best! Now the referees at the surface see that we have reached the platform according to the schedule. We are already on our way back to the entry point of the race, to fetch my waiting scooter. On the first leg of the DIR-GER scooter race, only one scooter for a team of two is permitted, so the teams have to do a bit of towing ...

DIR-GER - a cryptic acronym, and even googling it does not immediately solve the riddle. But one entry says "DIR-GER: Deutsche DIR Tech- Taucher-Liste", which means „German DIR Techdiving mailinglist“ and marks it as a Yahoogroup. Clicking further on, the curious finds the group to be invitational only, active since June 2000.

It was summer 2000 when Reinhard Buchaly and Michael Waldbrenner, founders of the EKPP (European Karst Plain Project) created this email list as a platform of exchange for likeminded technical divers, interested in DIR. At the same time, Michael started putting up his now quaint website to illustrate some of the aspects, which now serves as a fine documentation of the early years. Since the first mail of Michael Waldbrenner with the subject "test1", almost 18.000 mails have been exchanged on the list, discussing the do’s and don'ts of DIR diving, fighting over details, but never staying away from fun and jokes in between. The sometimes heated discussions about equipment have proven to be very popular with the crowd, as well as the SOPs with their relevance to team diving.

In those days, the list served as meeting point, and brought people together to facilitate obtaining then difficult to get equipment. Today, both the friendly dealer around the corner, and the internet make it a lot easier to get new shiny kit. Still, the blend of oldtimers and newbies finds an answer to almost every question, and the list often profits from the broad range of professional expertise found among the participants. Also finding buddies is meanwhile somewhat easier, as team diving, with more instructors and courses available, has become more popular across the country -- be it wrecks, caves or trimix; lots of equipment or very little. So every now and then meetings are organised, to get to know each other and go diving together, usually at the famous Kreidesee Hemmoor in the North of Germany, but sometimes also somewhere else - like this time.

As many had been voting for a location more central than Hemmoor, the latest meeting was to be held in the middle of February in Nordhausen, on the Sundhäuser See. A spacious parking lot with enough room for a meeting of so many divers, multiple entry points to the lake, combined with a very capable dive station and sufficient lodging opportunities made this location attractive. So it comes as no surprise that even with such adverse weather conditions as ice and snow, almost 70 participants found their way for the weekend. Some of them surely have been attracted by Saturdays presentations on wreck- and cavediving by Germany's experts in the field Derk Remmers, Reinhard Buchaly and Markus Schieritz - followed by a round of questions and answers in the plenum.

And then there was the scooter race Saturday noon. This might sound like dull racing – but it was far from that. Following the shining example of the Dutch community, who had offered something similar at their meeting, a course had been set by the organisers, which focused not only on speed, but also on the team play of dive buddies when it comes to solving additional tasks.

So it is back to the starting point, to where Totti has towed me with his scooter, where I hurry to fetch mine and clip it to my harness. Off we travel in parallel, following the line to its end, where the next challenge is waiting for us. After solving it, we speed back to the starting point, where we have to deliver our team tag, which we collected on the road, to finish our race. So back with the referees it is the total time that counts - well, for the race, that is. But what is more important is the loads of fun we had bumbling through the lake, and the giggles at the "awards ceremony" where we exchange stories, and the winners Albert and Hoffi rinse us down with Champagne. Good thing our dry suits are still closed...

A huge Thank you to those who helped with getting this meeting on the run. It has been two days with so much fun, nice diving, a whole lot of information - it has been great to have so many divers joining us there.

Text: Maren Isigkeit
Translation: Tobi Hofmann
Pictures: Nic Heuer, Maren Isigkeit.

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