MY FRIEND LAM IS THE CONSUMMATE DIVER. He is Chinese, small and neat. He gets his wetsuits made to measure in Hong Kong with a special dark green shiny outer surface. All his kit is black, including a very slim-fitting conventional waistcoat-style BC. He dangles nothing. All his gauges are neatly tucked away. I watched him cavorting with some sea-lions in the Galapagos, and had to admire his perfect buoyancy control and manoeuvrability. He looked as good as his bewhiskered soulmate as he spun and barrel-rolled and somersaulted with the slippery piniped. The Scubapro T-Sport is a conventional waistcoat-style BC of which Lam would approve. It's basically very simple. It has a large zipped pocket at either side, a top dump-valve that can be activated by pulling on the corrugated direct-feed hose, and another at the other shoulder that can be operated by a toggle fed through a conduit to a convenient position at the front of the shoulder straps.
Right nostril 'When it is time to ascend, one should put one's right forefinger against the side of your nose and then trace it directly down until one comes across the toggle to the BC's dump-valve, located on your chest directly below your right nostril. Try it!' I once had to listen to this instruction every day, several times. It was a dive briefing by a certain Miss PADI, who was dive-guiding us in St Lucia. She insisted that I listen to every word, and I still bear the scars. I was reminded of her when I saw that the latest T-Sport BC had a dump-valve toggle threaded through to the right spot. I couldn't help reaching up to make sure that my nose was still in the right place! The T-Sport's toggle operates a dump at the right shoulder, while pulling on the corrugated hose of the direct feed activates a dump-valve at the left. Presumably Miss PADI was unaware that if one passes the direct-feed hose with pull-dump under the sternum strap, as I am prone to do, she could have found it directly above her navel. Scubapro has designed its combined direct-feed hose and dump valve with an optional way of operating it should the corrugated hose becoming detached for some reason. A little lever protrudes from it, though I'm not sure why you should need to use this dump at all when you have the second top-dump at the other shoulder - Miss PADI's favourite. The T-Sport also has a lower dump with a toggle, handy on fast head-down descents or for jettisoning any water from the BC. While waiting at the surface for the pick-up boat, pull this bottom dump while continuing to inflate an already fully inflated BC, and excess water will be expelled. It saves having to carry its weight up the ladder. Like Lam, I tucked away all my gauges and found that the T-Sport fitted as a slim waistcoat should. A couple of kilos of lead in each pocket, rather than having all my weights on my belt, gave me a perfect stance in the water without that feeling of swimming with saddle-bags. At the same time, I could easily access the pockets when I needed to do so, without risking dropping the lead.
Degree in origami At the surface I could fully inflate the BC and get a distinctly uncomfortable hug before the over-pressure valve blew off, but I quickly learned not to do that. This BC gives typical armchair support and I never felt insecure. With one reservation, I would say that this is a very acceptable BC for any single-tank diver, wetsuit- or drysuit-wearer. The feature I don't like is what Scubapro calls the Super Cinch tank-band, its patented alternative to the conventional tank camband buckle. This is intended to make it quick and easy to slip from one tank to another of the same diameter, allowing divers to dispense with the degree in origami required to thread up a conventional camband. Alas, instead you risk not getting the band tight enough. On a dive, once the webbing is saturated and has stretched, you can suddenly find yourself holding your tank in place only by sheer determination, the strength of your molars and that of the cable-tie that secures your mouthpiece. There follows the undignified experience of someone jumping on your back and inexpertly attempting to put it all back together before the tank falls out again. The designers have tried to improve things by adding a non-slip rubber pad between tank and backpack, and now the webbing folds back on itself to the outside. However, it is still not easily tightened, even by somebody else, under water. I was always nervous about it, checking it before each dive and never trusting anyone else to swap my tank. If you feel the same, it's easy enough to swap it for a conventional camband. If the BC is for school and rentals, where the tanks are all the same and someone makes that permanent adjustment to the Super Cinch tankband to ensure that it works perfectly every time, it's OK. The Scubapro T-Sport is designed with travelling divers in mind. It is a single-bag design made from 500 denier Cordura, and, at less than 2.5kg, about as lightweight as a conventional BC can be. Not weighed down by too much shiny metal, it has a single plastic D-ring mounted to the right shoulder facing. Two more of these large D-rings are mounted along the lower edge of the jacket, and two little stainless steel D-rings are securely mounted on patches just above the pockets. I used them to attach my current hook and they survived the task. The harness buckles rotate to make their routeing as comfortable as possible, though because you can't move the attachment point, it's more a question of your body shape forcing the issue than you making any decision about it. The T-Sport gives sufficient surface support - around 17kg in size M and 11kg in XXS. Its neat design creates little drag in the water. It could be ideal for the single-tank drysuit diver who maintains his suit at constant volume and uses the BC only for surface support and to hold his tank. Scubapro says that the 'T' in T-Sport stands for 'technology', referring to its hi-tech method of manufacture. I am going to upset it by saying that I think the T-Sport BC has all the advantages of a lo-tech product, in that it is neat and simple and there is nothing to go wrong! The Scubapro T-Sport comes in seven sizes from XXS to XXL and costs£239. . Scubapro, www.scubapro-uwatec.com