border=0
BC Cressi J115

WHEN I UNPACKED THE CRESSI J115 BC IN THE OFFICE, I asked a fellow-diver what was missing. It took her a moment to spot that there was no corrugated hose.
     Taking up the challenge from neighbouring Italian manufacturer Mares, which has had some success with its patented Airtrim, Cressi has introduced its own remote-controlled buoyancy system. Its called, ambitiously, the Flight Control System.
     The direct-feed hose from the regulator goes directly to a small hand control at the bottom left side of the BC.
     This handset is also used to operate the direct-feed and dump valve remotely but, unlike the Airtrim, which uses pneumatics to operate the dump, the Cressi system uses a mechanical link.
     Both systems are intended to dispense with the sometimes untidy conventional corrugated hose affair.
     Already I can hear doubters worrying about what happens if the system goes wrong. Well, no-one could hope to sell a BC which appeared unable to dump air whatever the circumstances, so naturally there is a conventional rapid dump valve, operated by a pull-cord and toggle at the opposite shoulder, and another at the lower back in case you need to dump air while inverted. You could also use it for draining any water that might find its way into the buoyancy bag.
     The upshot is that the whole rig looks cleaner and neater, unless you think that the hand-control could get snagged on things. It does stick out a bit, and in a rather masculine way, and the hose from the regulator was a bit on the short side to allow for it to be routed neatly. At least it gave me somewhere to hang my towel!
     I have always been a great fan of Cressi BCs, not least because this company was the first to address the problem of accidentally dropped integrated weights.
     Cressi weight-packets are stowed in such a way that they do not weigh heavily on any Velcro, and this is achieved simply by rotating the design of the pockets through 90Â.
     When vertical, at the surface for example, you simply lift the weight-packets out from where they sit. You would have to be head-down to be in any danger of dropping them.
     Even so, the Velcro is augmented by a heavyweight press-stud and webbing strap. In an emergency during which you felt inclined to drop weights, I suggest that you would probably be vertical and going for the surface.
     Dont try to assess the success of this system safe and dry in the dive shop. There, it will need a lot of effort to free the weights. Under water, where Cressi products are designed to be used, its as easy as pie.
     For use with aluminium tanks, two trim-weight pockets are installed at the back. I managed to get 8kg in the front and 4kg in the back easily, and that must be enough for most people.
     Cressi BCs seem to grow bigger every time I try a new model. This one gives masses of lift when inflated to the maximum, and because the harness is separate from the buoyancy cell there is no hint of squeeze. It also has a sufficient number of strongly attached D-rings. However, there were comments about the weight of my dive bag when this BC was in there.
     Overall, the J115 worked very well. Two big double-zipped pockets are still totally accessible even when the BC is filled to the maximum and air is squeezing out of the over-pressurisation valve. The integrated-weight system being optional, flaps can be fastened over the unused pockets to stop any drag effect. When the integrated-weight packets are installed, these flaps hide away in their own zipped pockets.
     Diving in a place famous for its fast currents, I left one of these flap pockets unzipped and kept my reef-hook in it. So comfort and buoyancy control was good and there are plenty of places to install accessories. But then I began to wonder if, in its enthusiasm to meet the competition from Mares head-on in the market-place, Cressi had lost the plot.
     Why do I say this Well, I never now raise a BC hose to dump air, as we did when first taught to release air from the highest point. This fills the bladder with water that runs back in at the same time. I prefer to use the dump valves.
     When using a conventional BC with a traditional direct-feed and corrugated hose, and a dump-valve operated by pulling, I like to tuck it under the sternum strap so that it doesnt flap around, and the business end is somewhere near my navel.
     I can put air in or dump it by operating this control with either hand, pressing the button or tugging the hose as required. If you like, I have perfected my own flight-control system.
     So why do I need a patented device, positioned inconveniently away to one side, to do exactly the same thing
     Not only that, but if I should come to the surface with the air in my tank much depleted, with a conventional system I know exactly where the hose for manual inflation of the BC is - where it has been throughout the dive.
     With the Cressi J115 I would have to start searching through the pockets for the independent manual inflation hose. And thats when you realise just how many zips and pockets there are.
     The J115 worked impeccably. Do we need its Flight Control System Probably not. You can decide.
The Cressi J115 costs £455 and comes in sizes S, M, L and XL.

  • Cressi UK 01484 310130, www.cressi-sub.net


  • Divernet
    trim-weight
    trim-weight pockets at the back
    integrated
    integrated weight pocket
    look,
    look, no corrugated hose!
    border=0
    + Most up-to-date development of a successful BC
    + Good weights system
    + Neat layout



    border=0
    - Heavy
    - Do we really need the Flight Control System