Tec Dossier – Rubens Monaco

Any PADI/TecRec certification:

PADI Rebreather Instructor Trainer

Tec Rec Deep Instructor Trainer

Tec Sidemount Instructor Trainer

Usual Country of residence:  Australia

Preparing for a CCR Dive on the Mikhail Lermontov

What is your background and current involvement in diving?

I have been diving for over 27 years. I became interested in cave diving in 1989 when I got my first CDAA certification which was then a Cat 1 & 2 Cave diver. Received my PADI Divemaster certification in 1990 and from then on decided I wanted diving to be my life. I open my first dive shop in Melbourne in 1995 and have since grown what was a small dive centre to a now popular and respected PADI 5 Star IDC facility which specializes in Tec, Cave and CCR training.

How did you get into tec diving?

Cave diving was and has been my passion for a long time. I was diving sidemount configurations early in my career. This was the basis for my interest in other forms of technical diving. I was soon diving mixed gases and then in 1998 purchased my first rebreather, a Drager Dolphin SCR. I now own and dive regularly a rEvo, Optima, Prism 2, Sentinel, MK6, Hollis Explorer and an Evolution Plus.

Testing the Hollis Explorer in Tasmania with John Dall Zuanna

Do have any specialised areas of interest?

Certainly over the last few years I have specialised in rebreather training and instructor training. I have been fortunate to have been taught by some of the most respected figures worldwide in rebreather technology and expertise. I have also been very fortunate to be involved in the roll out of the two Hollis rebreathers over the past few years and am honoured to have been chosen to be the Hollis Rebreather Training Director for my region. I am an instructor and IT on most of the units I dive as well as a CCR Cave instructor as well.

What do think the greatest challenges are in this kind of diving?

I feel that the greatest challenge in rebreather diving is still trying to not be complacent about how you go about diving a CCR. I find I can keep myself in check only because I dive so many different units, so I find myself always using checklists and referring to the manual to ensure I am not mixing my procedures from unit to unit. I can however see how someone can become complacent when diving a unit for a long period of time. I am a fan of the latest automation that some manufacturers have integrated into units to make life easier for the end user.

Diving on the Sentinel watching a Weedy Sea Dragon

What are the most important attributes of a tec diver for the type of diving you do?

So to me the most important attribute for a tec CCR diver is the discipline to be able to follow his/hers procedures before every dive and develop a good habit of checklists and correct assembly of units to ensure a safer dive outcome.

What are the most likely mistakes a tec diver can make in your kind of diving?

As statistics unfortunately show, poor and negligent assembly, checking and diving of CCR’s has led to many unnecessary deaths. Speaking to many CCR instructors worldwide, I think the general stand of CCR is very high, however, the laziness of divers post course is what must be addressed.

What were your best or worst tec diving experiences?

With cave diving been my real passion, my best cave experience was diving the caves in Mexico on CCR. To spend so much time in a system and experience the best that cave diving has to offer in that region, Mexico is definitely a highlight for me. Of course the worst diving experience was also in a cave. It was early on in my diving career and let’s just say that after breaking 3 of the five golden rules of cave diving in one dive, I was lucky to come out of that system alive was it not for a cool head and my previous training. Not something I was proud of and certainly learned my lesson!!

Teaching a student to dive the rEvo

What influences your selection of dive gear?

Being a shop owner, most of the influence in gear selection is shop and sales bases. However, can I say that I am impressed with most of the tec diving gear manufacturers in the quality of equipment that they put out there.

What kind of person do you want diving in the same team as you?

As a team diver, I am always looking to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Divers who can understand the brief, be ready for the unexpected, not have to be told or reminded of what to come and where to be on the dive and most importantly for me, we are there to have fun and enjoy the experience as a team, as mates!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into tec diving?

I have been saying for a while that compared to most other adventure sports, recreational diving has become more about relaxation and less about thrill seeking. For anyone thinking of getting into tec diving, it is an opportunity for you to explore the adventurous side of yourself. With the latest equipment, training techniques, quality training materials and professional tec instructors, it is much easier and more rewarding than ever before to immerse yourself in the technical realm.

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