It was two Frenchmen who invented the compressed-air aqua-lung as we know it. How they managed to develop such an idea into a viable item of kit during World War two, without the occupying Germans finding out, remains a mystery. However, it does mean that the French have been scuba-diving for longer than anyone else.
     One company, based down in the south of France near the birthplace of open-circuit scuba, has been producing diving equipment for almost as long, yet its name is still relatively unknown in the UK. Its British importer is now Typhoon International, and the name of the company is Beuchat.
     The VX100 and VX80 regulators from Beuchat look beautifully made. They are nicely machined and the chrome work is of the highest quality. Both have a diaphragm-type action and two high-pressure ports together with four mp ports. The VX100 has a turret first stage while the VX80 has a fixed barrel.
     The second stage of the VX100 has both a venturi  switch and a breathing-resistance adjustment knob, whereas its slightly less expensive sibling has only the venturi  switch.
     What makes these second stages different from previous Beuchat regulators is their compact dimensions and small exhaust ports.
     The soft front of the second stage with the purge hidden beneath it, the squashy soft material of the exhaust port, the soft hose-protector and the silicone mouthpiece all add up to provide a very diver-friendly effect.
     As I found myself taking the photographs to illustrate this item while diving in very cold fresh water, I took the precaution of pulling the hose-protector back down the mp hose to reveal the big connecting nut, thinking that this might act as a bit of a heat-sink. Suffice to say, I had no problems with free-flow due to icing.
     In fact the only problem I had was with the face-Jacuzzi provided by my own exhaust bubbles once I stopped finning forwards. This proved problematic only when I stopped to take photographs, but it was extremely disconcerting. Other compact regulators do the same.
     I was using the VX100 and found the BRA knob a little hard to get to grips with because of the thick gloves I was wearing, so I chose to leave it fully cranked open and simply inhale less forcefully if I needed less air. The way the inside of the second stage is designed, there is no direct routeing for air to allow it to gush past your tonsils. Instead it comes in a diffuse flood.
     I found that the venturi  switch made precious little difference, probably for exactly the same reason. The air has time to flood around the inside of the second-stage housing before it pours out through the mouthpiece. The effect is very pleasant.
     Beuchat regulators have not always done so well in our big comparison tests. The new VX100 is not the highest-performance regulator I have used but it certainly could not be faulted at the depths to which I used it, and I have to say that I would be happy to use it as my primary regulator under almost any diving circumstance.
The Beuchat VX100 costs £249 and the simpler VX80 costs £189. Both are available in A-clamp or DIN fitting.
  • Typhoon International 01642 486104, www.typhoon-int.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Beautifully made
    + Friendly soft-style second stage

    - Exhaust bubbles disrupt vision at times