BCMares Jubilee
I OWN THE ULTIMATE MINIMALISTS BACK-FLOTATION BC - a Seaquest 3D. I tried it years ago for these pages, extolled its virtues and even purchased an example for myself. However, so few divers followed my lead that the company ceased production shortly after my review was published. So much for my advice.
     Less is more. How often do I write these words, only to discover that for most divers, less is less and more is more, and more is honestly what you really want
     Not me. I want to dive sleek as a seal. I dont want to be decorated with danglies like a proverbial Christmas tree. I dont want to drag any more hardware through the water than I actually need. I want to be Aquaman. I have always been a would-be Alpinist in everything I do.
     Thanks to the requirement to fill these pages, I rarely achieve that personal state of diving nirvana. But I was off on a trip across to the other side of the world and, with excess-baggage charges in mind, I asked the distributor for Mares to send me its sleekest and lightest wing BC to test.
     It sent me the Jubilee. Its a lot more than that original minimalist wing. It is more strongly built, for one thing.
     Mind you, longevity is a very difficult quality to judge. My minimalist wing verged on flimsy but I still have it and it works as perfectly as the day I bought it. On the other hand, another BC that I own, built to the standards of a Challenger tank, burst its inner bladder when fully inflated on surfacing after the first dive.
     Does this mean that one is stronger than the other No, it just means that I was lucky with one and unlucky with the other.
     The Jubilee has only two dump valves, one at the shoulder atop the conventional corrugated hose and direct-feed and one at the lower back. It has a substantial harness with swivelling shoulder buckles for a perfect fit and the MRS integrated-weight system that is so effectively held in place by locking studs. There is a hard backpack with a comfort cushion and four large pre-bent stainless-steel D-rings. The sternum strap was useful for tucking the corrugated hose out of the way. There are no pockets.
     It reminded me a little of the lightweight Porsche 911 that was offered stripped of all but necessities and sold at a higher price than the more popular luxury models of that car. Although stripped to the basics, however, the Jubilee proved heavier than I had hoped when packing for my trip.
     The wing itself is made of Cordura Duroskin and is sensibly shaped to be widest at the bottom, so that when it is fully inflated it concertinas out to offer plenty of surface support. I bobbed well clear of the large standing waves caused by the wind against current in the channels of Rangiroa.
     Two elastic straps stop it from flapping during the dive. There are trim-weight pockets hidden at the back and closed with zips rather than the buckle-closures described in the Mares publicity material. These prove invaluable when using an aluminium cylinder.
     The BC has a keyholder pocket at the cummerbund, as is now the vogue, but what the water would do to the electronics in most modern car keys is a mystery I have yet to test. I used it to stow my current hook.
     With the Jubilee there is no attempt to hide away the non-optional MRS weight-pouches, and these slide onto their external mounts very visibly. There is no danger of a helpful liveaboard crew member installing them incorrectly without it being noticed. I used 4kg of lead each side, plus an extra two as trim-weights. They proved very secure until I needed to hand them up to a boat-handler, when they unclipped precisely.
     So far so good. However, I do have one small criticism. When it came to dumping air on ascent, I found that to pull the corrugated hose and operate the shoulder dump distorted the bag and made it impossible to get the last of the air out.
     I resorted each time to raising the corrugated hose, as new divers are usually taught to do, and rotating myself as required. This of course lets water back in the other way, and the complex concertina-style design of the wing made it equally difficult to drain this water out when back on board the boat. I felt that the BC needed an extra dump valve at the back section of the bag at the opposite shoulder.
     I didnt let this spoil my diving, however, and once I had discovered this drawback, I took it in my stride. Under water, I did feel as sleek as a seal.
The Mares Jubilee costs £335.
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    The second dump-valve at the lower back
    The MRS integrated weight system is held in place effectively with locking studs
    + Less is more

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