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Well… What an amazing course! The day left me buzzing with enthusiasm and the biggest stoke!

Father, Pete Vanagas and his two sons Drew and Tom came to the course with a very high level of watermanship ability, returning from a recent trip to Hawaii and avid visitors to Indonesia it was a great challenge contextualizing a course to push their comfort zones and extend their knowledge of the ocean and themselves.

So with the help of two impressive watermen; Anthony Superina (freediver, tow surfer and sail boarder) and Dan Haumu (freediver, surf photographer and surfer) we teamed up to push the Vanagas Trio, advance their watermanship abilities and increase their confidence.


Starting off with impressive static breath holds of 1 to 2 minutes we delved into some basic science to break down the processes that the human body goes through during apnea, a bit of breath up instruction and combined with some impressive mental determination from the team… static apnea of up to 3min40 were achieved! Very impressive lads! This session left me very excited to see the team in action!


With winter setting in and the water temperature dropping, it made for excellent conditions for initial surf survival practical!

With hoots and high fives the team blew me away with their ability to focus and apply their new knowledge in over 20 various disorientation hold downs between them… air pockets, disorientation spins and water up the nose! Upon surfacing for his surface drill, Pete muttered through the giggles, “I felt comfortable, that was really fun!”… Time for the real thing!


Back in their element, the lads eyes lit up as we waded into the small surf at the Pass to board Byron Bay Dive Centers RHIB.  On the run out, as if being welcomed to Julian Rocks, we stopped to admire three pods of Humpback Whales on their yearly migration north, the best way to start an open ocean training session!

The lads slight rattled nerves were settled by Dan and Ant as I prepared for the freedive buoys in the slightly stormy conditions… perfect for training watermen! Ha ha!

Setting the depth at 5 meters and getting the team practicing some basic no fins freediving skills, again I was impressed with how good they all looked in the water! Peter “the walrus” Vanagas quickly applying freediving skills learnt in the pool and combined with his years of experience in the ocean set the bench mark for Drew and Tom! The boys responded quickly to the challenge and completed some amazing dives up to 11 meters! Very impressive!

With hoots of stoke all around, it was time to head in… A sense of achievement was strongly felt amongst the team as we hit the beach. Not only from the students but from the One Ocean Team as well!

Thanks so much again Pete, Drew and Tom! It was a pleasure training and sharing knowledge with you and I very much look forward to getting in the ocean again with the Vanagas Team!

A massive thanks to Ant and Dan! With over 60 years of combined ocean experience, you both bought such impressive knowledge to the table…

A special mention to Alex Frings who attended the theory part of the course even though suffering from a sinus infection and achieving the biggest static of the course of 3min40sec (a total increase of 2min30sec from the initial static!), Alex showed unbelievable mental strength and I look forward to seeing him back for the practical sessions on the next advanced survival course this month!


10% of the proceeds from this course have been donated to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, thanks team.  

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