REGULATOR Tigullio T52 Airtrak (XP-10)
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, it has launched its T52 range of products, including an innovative BC (Diver Tests, April), a semi-dry suit and a couple of regulators. Tigullio has also decided that it is ready to tackle the British market.
     The Italian diving industry makes some of the best products in diving. It also makes some of the worst. Tigullios R&D department is in Genoa. Assuming a certain amount of cross-fertilisation between engineers in the bars and restaurants of a town brimming with diving-equipment manufacturers, I didnt expect Tigullio products to be part of the latter group.
     I collected a T52 Airtrak regulator with its XP-10 first stage to find out if I was right.
     This is the companys entry-level model but is claimed to have a balanced-diaphragm first stage with coldwater specification, though this is quite straightforward, with only one high pressure port and four other ports located around a fixed barrel. It does feel unnaturally heavy, however.
     The second stage is cleanly designed and devoid of knobs. If you want knobs, Tigullio can provide you with the Airtrak Plus, which has a swivelling-turret first stage with two hp ports and a second stage which has some very fine knobs indeed. The front unscrews in a satisfying manner to reveal the diaphragm and what looks to be a well-made valve mechanism.
     In view of current trends towards smaller second stages, with a consequent diminishing return on the size of the exhaust tee, I was pleased to note that the Airtrak second stage may be neatly designed but has an exhaust tee that is large enough to direct my exhaled bubbles past the sides of my face instead of in front of my eyes. No face-jacuzzi effect here.
     I was diving in the Maldives with a buddy who proved to have remarkably light air consumption, and there were no larger 15 litre cylinders available for me in compensation.
     Therefore, to take more air with me, I opted to strap a pony cylinder to the standard aluminium 12 supplied and use its contents as part of my dive plan.
     This meant using the pony at the beginning of the dive and later swapping to the main cylinder and managing its air-supply in the normal way. Of course, that is not the way a pony is used when it is employed as a redundant air supply.
     The T52 Airtrak was fitted to the pony and in this way I used it for the deepest part of the dive, and often during a time when it was necessary to face into a strong current and swim heartily against it or, more often than not, to claw my way forward with my current hook to reach our intended location on the reef.
     Despite its very heavy workload, the T52 Airtrak always gave me a plentiful and comfortable breathe, similar in some ways to that of the equally inexpensive Oceanic SP4 Alpha 7, the model that surprised everyone by doing so well in our recent comparative regulator tests.
     It also compared very favourably in that respect to the excellent regulator on my main tank, one that cost five times as much as the Airtrak. Air flooded into my mouth in an un-jetlike manner and, despite the fact that I was able to drain the 3 litres in no time, I never felt uneasy about its ability to deliver.
     I cannot say that this regulator, or the Alpha 7 for that matter, would be ideal for coldwater diving. There doesnt seem to be much evidence of that. But if you always dive in the sea, its another budget-priced regulator to consider.
The Tigullio T52 Airtrak (XP-10) costs £165 and the octopus for it £79.
  • Beaver Sports 01484 512354, www.beaversports.co.uk

  • Divernet
    + Bargain price
    + Comfortable breathe

    - Not suggested for use in fresh water of less than 10ÂC