REGULATOR Cressi-Sub Elipse

Unlike most big diving equipment manufacturers, Cressi-sub is a family business, run by Antonio Cressi. Based in Genoa in Italy, a town acknowledged for its expertise in injection moulding, its no surprise to find that Cressi makes well-engineered fins, masks and snorkels.
     But Cressi is a full-range equipment manufacturer and fervently competes with the multi-national corporation Head-Tyrolean-Mares, which for years was based just down the road.
     HTM has massive resources that enable it to fund a busy R&D department, and Mares/Dacor appears to bring out new products by the bucketload every year. At Cressi-sub, products evolve a little more slowly, but under the careful eye of the patriarchal boss, himself a keen scuba diver.
     Cressi-sub has addressed the serious regulator market only in the past few years. It has been a couple of years since the Cressi Air-Tech began to appear on the shelves of British dive shops.
     I was enthusiastic about this particular regulator, not least because the company had seemed to be working for so long on perfecting it.

back to the drawing board
If there was one criticism, it was that in the intervening period nearly every other manufacturer had decided to reduce the size of their second stages and the Air-Tech, when it finally arrived, seemed a little big and therefore looked old-fashioned. Cressi had been out-manoeuvred.
     Not in the least daunted, Antonio Cressi commanded his engineers and designers to set to work producing a smaller and thus more acceptable-in-the-market design. And so we have the Cressi-sub Ellipse.
     Fitted with the same tear-shaped diaphragm-type first stage that has been proven with the Air-Tech, the Ellipse is very compact, even by contemporary standards.
     It has a venturi plus/minus switch that positions a vane in the airflow to avoid exponential free-flows at the surface, but otherwise there is nothing to fiddle with during a dive.
     It is one of the smallest second stages I have used, but without any concession to performance. At a range of depths to which I consider it safe to dive with air, it breathed impeccably, almost like a dream. The air was not jet-like, nor was it ever insufficient. It was simply delivered to my mouth in a very natural way.
     Neither was there any exhaust-bubble interference, a common problem with regulators with tiny exhaust deflectors.
     With a low work of breathing, I found that this was reflected in the reduced amount of air I consumed during the dive and, because the internal dimensions are so small, I found that the purge button, though firm, was very effective.
     If I have any complaint, it is only that the six ports (including two high-pressure) on the first stage are rather close together.
     I found that I had to use an extension piece to enable me to squeeze the transmitter of my gas-integrated computer among the other hoses I connected.
     Once I have used a regulator that has been supplied to me by a manufacturer (and, I assume, pre-checked for proper performance) I always like to take a peek inside the second-stage housing to see how well its put together.
     To access the works of the Ellipse means withdrawing a hexagonal bolt with a spring-loaded fitting within the exhaust deflector. This allows the centre section of the deflector to release, and this is hinged to the front of the diaphragm-retainer.
     This in turn is hinged to the top of the second-stage housing, and the whole lot unfolds in a very satisfying way and clams shut to make it completely watertight afterwards.
     Titanium is not a suitable metal to use in a first stage in conjunction with high-pressure nitrox but is currently thought to be OK for use in the low-pressure environment of a second stage. The titanium valve mechanism of my test Ellipse demonstrated a suitably high-quality finish. Some manufacturers dislike their consumers looking at the works of their regulators. They are worried that theyll see how cheaply made they are. Cressi has no worries on this score. Its very smart.
     Not only that, but Cressi has taken the needs of northern European divers seriously and produced a regulator that is rated for cold fresh water. Im sure we will soon see examples of the Cressi Ellipse in evidence at British inland dive sites in the possession of happy, if cold, divers.
The Cressi Ellipse Titanium costs £240. The standard version costs £178. Both are ridiculously good value!

  • Cressi-sub UK 01484310130, www. cressi-sub.net

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Terrific yet subtle performance
    + Lightweight second stage

    - First-stage port positions mean that hoses can be crowded