April 14, 2017

Free-Dive into the Authentic Big Blue off Amorgos

Free-diving enthusiasts will have the chance to compete in the island’s deep, clear waters this September in an event inspired by the cult movie.

Greece Is | March 30th, 2017 If you’ve heard of the 1988 movie, The Big Blue, you’re either in love with Greece’s waters, enchanted with free-diving, or both. Luc Besson’s film starring Jean Reno was a cult hit, especially among members of the free-diving community thanks to its stunning diving sequences shot in the impossibly clear and impossibly blue waters of Amorgos and Ios.

The landmark film triggered worldwide interest in both the sport and the gorgeous Cycladic locations it was shot in. And, 29 years since its initial release, the film keeps on giving.

This summer, the Authentic Big Blue will offer the opportunity for free-diving aficionados and fans of the movie to live their own adventures in Amorgos. From September 17-25, 2017, enthusiasts of the extreme sport are invited to gather on the island and take part in a free-diving event sanctioned by the governing body of the sport, the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA).

Free-diving and Greece

Free-diving, the practice of diving without breathing apparatus, has been used as a technique for centuries to harvest shellfish, pearls and sponges. Over the decades, it has evolved into an extreme sport as divers compete to reach increasing depths on a single breath, pushing the limits of the human body.

Several different forms of the sport exist. The most thrilling – and the most dangerous – is the so-called ‘no-limit’ discipline where divers can use any means to reach the greatest depths. Typically divers descend on weighted platforms and rise with inflated balloons. It’s on this category that the film concentrated, highlighting the extreme mental and physical control needed to achieve record-breaking depths.

Thanks to the legacy of The Big Blue, the country’s crystal-clear waters and warm temperatures, Greece has become a favorite destination for both professional and amateur free-divers alike. And it goes beyond that. With its seafaring history, the tradition of diving for sponges in Kalymnos, not to mention the countless treasures lifted from the seabed thanks to those who ventured into the blue on a single breath, Greece has both a modern and an ancient history that’s intrinsically interwoven with free-diving. It’s no wonder that it acts as the perfect stage for international free-diving competitions.   

The current world record is an astonishing 214 meters for men and 160 meters for women in the no-limits discipline. The male world record was set off the island of Spetses, Greece in 2007 by the Austrian and ‘deepest man on earth’, Herbert Nitsch during just one of many free-diving events held in the country in recent years. The 2011, 2013 and 2016 AIDA world free-diving championships were also held in Greece in Kalamata. In total, 26 AIDA or AIDA-affiliated diving events have taken place in Greece since 2007 and two of the current world champions in free-diving disciplines hail from the country.


Into the big blue

The European release of the The Big Blue ends with one of the central characters facing a choice between the woman he loves and the call of the sea. He chooses the latter and loses himself in the abyss (although American audiences were given an alternate ending after it was felt the original one was too sad). It’s this sense of freedom and surrender to the sea that the event is harnessing against the backdrop of an island that enchanted the film’s director.

The event and the summer tourism season are still some time away, but on Amorgos, excitement is growing. Key organizer Vivi Draka is one of the people looking forward to it with increasing anticipation.

As to why now and why this movie, Vivi says, “Because The Big Blue is a never ending story. And last summer as I was sitting at Aghia Anna bay, I thought that we must keep alive the inspiration the director of the movie, Luc Besson got from this place.”

Before and after the diving events, the organizers have made sure that those taking part get a true taste of Amorgos, with a gastronomy festival highlighting specialities from the island and Greece. “A free-diving event hand in hand with a gastronomy festival is the best way to keep that inspiration alive. Our motto is ‘Dive into the Big Blue, rise into Greek gastronomy and hospitality.’” explains Vivi.

And so far they’ve been bowled over by the response. “It was unexpected!” says Vivi. “When this story started I could not imagine the exposure we’d get. Especially because it’s the first event we’re organizing.”

“And the interest is not only in the free-diving community but among those who love the sea, the whispering beauty of Amorgos, the unique energy of the island, of course The Big Blue, the travelers, the athletes – all those who want a different approach to their vacations and a different lifestyle.”

More details can be found on the event’s website 

Source: Greece-is.com

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