94 year old Ray Woolley – Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver

Remember back in August 2015 when Harry Thornton became a Suba Diver with Viking Divers at the age of 83..? On Monday the 28th of August 2017, almost exactly two years after Harry, another senior diver from Viking Divers made it into the news; this time it is an amazing and incredible record; Ray Woolley claimed the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver!

Wow… This is truly inspirational…

Ray Woolley spent his 94th birthday on Monday the 28th of August 2017 diving to the sunken wreck of the Zenobia ferry in Larnaca in a bid for a Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest scuba diver.

Ray’s attempt saw him dive to a depth of 38 metres for 41 minutes. The entire process was filmed, photographed and documented in line with guidelines approved by Guinness World Records. Ray will know if he has officially been awarded the title in around three months’ time.

“I only had to dive below 12 metres for 30 minutes to take the record off the last guy, but I decided to do a bit more,” Ray told the Cyprus Mail.

Daughter Lyn Armitage, who travelled from the UK to help him celebrate his birthday and milestone dive, said he was eager to get in the water and nimbly jumped off the end of the boat in great spirits.

Originally from Port Sunlight in the Wirral, Ray lives now close to Limassol in Cyprus. He was born in 1923 and first started diving with the Portland and Weymouth British Sub Aqua Club in 1960.

After taking up diving in 1960, Ray was posted to Cyprus in 1964 and was a regular diver here. In 1999 he retired and returned to live permanently in Cyprus after diving in locations around the world.

What is Ray´s secret to be so amazingly fit?

“I swim for two hours a day in my swimming pool; staying active is important. I feel terribly sorry for other people my age who are struggling a bit and may not be in the condition I’m lucky enough to be in,” he said.

Congratulations Ray! You are a true inspiration to all of us..!

Developing a Diving Destination of Excellence

Let´s talk about how to develop a diving destination of excellence. One of my many duties as a PADI Regional Manager is to help the dive industry grow in the particular Region I manage. As a PADI Regional Manager, I´m responsible for Cyprus, the Canary Islands and Switzerland. This time – I would like to have a closer look how to develop Cyprus and how to bring Cyprus on the map as a diving destination of excellence.

What is a diving destination of excellence?

Diving is classified as adventure tourism – and the definition of excellence is measured by the image of the destination itself by the tourists themselves.

I´m sure you heard about the Zenobia Wreck, which sunk on the 7th of June 1980. The Zenobia lays now at roughly 42m and about 1.5km offshore in front of the marina in Larnaca.

In order to be classified as an excellent destination the Zenobia must fulfil both short term and long term criteria.

Short term view:
Ability to fulfil divers expectation: The diver must be immediately satisfied.

Long term view:

  • The value generated by diver tourism must be shared between all involved parties
  •  Preserve the dive sites: marine conservation
  • Must comply with the ethical principles recognized by international law

The Zenobia has long been classified as one of the top ten wrecks in the world. We can look at past wreck specialty certifications from 2004 – 2014.

As you can see the number of these certifications has remained vastly the same over this period. This illustrates that we have maintained this dive destinations’ global rating, but also shows us the opportunity for growth. The Zenobia already generates 25 million euros per annum in dive tourist revenue. Promoting the Zenobia in the right way will ensure a steady and sustainable growth of revenue, and dive-tourism Island wide will also benefit. This niche in adventure tourism will put Cyprus on the destination of excellence map for reasons that go beyond that of the “cleanest beaches of Europe” and with the right market strategy we could also get the on the top dive destinations of Europe too.

How do we do this?

Cooperation, cooperation, cooperation!!

Official bodies like the CTO, the CDCA and all dive operations must have the same goal and we must, above all work together. Competition should be seen as a challenge to raise the overall standard of this beautiful island as a dive destination. The Zenobia and the purposefully sunk wrecks all form artificial reefs that boost fish stocks and get some more life into the Mediterranean. Improved fishery Laws and enforced marine parks will all help generate dive tourism by making our sea more alive, more beautiful and therefor more interesting. PADI is here to support you, organizations such as Project AWARE have the sole aim to improve the ecology of the world’s oceans, and it offers support to regional areas to allow this improvement to happen in a sustainable way. Improvements must have long term goals to ensure divers are both immediately satisfied, but also want to return year after year. Sustainable growth through quality will ensure quantity with continuously grow. We have been doing a fine job……now let’s strive for excellence.

How does dive tourism affect island wide tourism?

Divers who are attracted to Cyprus as a dive destination will most likely be travelling with non-diving companions or family. These non-divers also have satisfaction criteria that must be met by the island. This naturally generates growth of Tourism Island wide, by the normal avenues of tourism – such as hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities outside of the diving realm. The beauty of the islands marine environments may even generate a growth in entry level certifications and diving, especially when the dive sites are in the caliber of the Zenobia. Diving is, as we all know, highly addictive. This enthusiasm is contagious. Marketing and promotion in the right way will ensure that this enthusiasm is transformed into new diver acquisition and an every improving revenue in the dive tourism sector.  It’s a circle of benefits that feed each other. Let’s keep the keep the wheel turning!

Future trends

Seeing as diver numbers for wreck specialties have remained fairly constant over the last decade we can see that growth needs come both from successful marketing of the current dive attractions and the development of ever more niche markets within diving. The ever increasing interest of side mount and technical diving allows ever new avenues of diving opportunities to be explored and profited from. By maintaining high standards, variation and cooperation within the industry we can ensure future trends are positively advantageous to tourism as a whole.

Let´s work together and bring more divers to the beautiful island in the eastern Mediterranean.

 

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 3: The Zenobia, Cyprus (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

In this article, guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler concludes her list of top 3 dives in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Missed the previous articles? Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.


Dive Site: Zenobia Wreck

Location: Larnaca, Cyprus
Description: Wreck
Length: 174 meters
Depth: 18 – 42 meters

The Zenobia wreck is one of the top wreck dives on the planet, originally a roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferry, not unlike the ferries that service the Dover-Calais route between the UK and France.

She sank in 42 meters of water in Larnaca, Cyprus on her maiden voyage in June, 1980 after departing from Malmo, Sweden.  Her final destination was Tartous, Syria but she never made it; after just a short while at sea her captain noticed severe steering problems. Investigations showed that the ballast tanks on the port side were filling with water, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

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The Zenobia Week

PDD-Zenobia-560x200This special wreck event, the Zenobia week, is fast becoming a tradition in Cyprus and this year was no exception. Dive centers from all over the island have been bringing their guests to Larnaca to dive the Top 3rd wreck in the world and to compete in the PADI Selfie competition.

Winner Core Regulator

Winning Selfie!

PADI loves special events, nothing excites them more. This year PADI sponsored the Zenobia week by offering a free pair of sunglasses to every diver who signed up for either the deep diver or wreck diver speciality course. If that wasn’t enough, participants were asked to get creative above the water by taking a cool selfie and  entering  PADI’s selfie competition. The coolest selfie was carefully selected and the winner won an amazingly beautiful Aqualung CORE regulator…thankyou Mercury Divers!

Larnaca was full of the hustle and bustle of busy divers over the weekend, all running around in “cool” yellow PADI shades snapping shots in the bazarest of angles. Dive equipment was lugged, tanks were filled and suncream was applied as truck after truck arrived at Larnaca Marina. Happy smiles and damp hugs were everywhere as dive buddies reunited on one of the best dives of their lives. Instructors and divemasters were practically dancing at the PADI Pavilion,and their divers were all eager to meet Sascha Engeler, the PADI Regional Manager, to hopefully make their selfie the winning one. Nice try guys,.. The positive energy was everywhere and it was such a joy to be part of it.

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Jurg Dahler from Coral Bay Divers with the new Aqualung CORE Regulator

Thanks to everyone who took part of this epic Event. Jurg Dahler from Coral Bay Divers took the winning scuba selfie, so the Aqualung CORE Regulator has gone to a good home. It definitely will get to dive regularly and will be allowed to play with all of its underwater friends!

Zenobia Week

zenobia-week

The Zenobia wreck sits in 42 meters of water just outside the Port of Larnaca, Cyprus. She has been voted one of the top ten wrecks worldwide and divers from all walks of life can experience her on a variety of different levels. What makes her so access able? The sheer size of this RO-RO ferry means that although she is in relatively deep water, she sank on her port side and the shallowest part of the wreck can be reached after just 17 meters. That means that even entry level divers can enjoy one of the largest underwater vessels in the world, while still providing an arena that even the most seasoned tech diver will tingle over. That is very special.

During my time working as a PADI dive Instructor in Cyprus, I would visit this metal giant weekly and it was an absolute joy to watch people’s reactions as the wreck came into view while descending into the blue. Wide eyes and happy facial features were on every diver, their breathing increasing ever so slightly as their excitement of the upcoming dives slowly reveled themselves with each deepening meter.

Now I am the PADI Regional Manager for Cyprus, my love of this wreck is still at its peak. I have dived her over 100 times and yet my anticipation of the new adventures I will have still makes me wake up before my alarm goes off, ready to take the plunge.

It was no surprise to me when I discovered that the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) had a special Zenobia Week in store for us in June 2014. I was given the opportunity to speak at one of the Zenobia promotional conferences, as I am extremely involved in underwater conservation and a healthy dive market.  I learned a lot about the development of artifical reefs in Cyprus, the marine life at the Zenobia and I learned about diving tourism and its prospects. I also met a lot of likeminded people with a common goal in mind – to make Cyprus a diving destination of excellence. We all know Zenobia is awesome – and this promotional week is planned to run annually by the CTO. Adventure tourism is the most fun kind, in my opinion – so walking around Larnaca seeing all the child artists’ impressions and creations of the Zenobia on the sea front was a beautiful thing to see. The fact that the CTO are actively educating their students in the wonders of the underwater world at such a young age gives me high hopes for the project’s success. To coin an old but true saying “The children are the future”. Nothing is truer than this when it comes to our future generations being able to experience beautiful marine environments as we do.