Appeared in DIVER October 2006

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BC Ralf Tech Travelight Tech
When Piet Mondrian, the famous minimalist artist and father of geometric abstraction, was persuaded to brighten up his studio in New York, he added a single tulip with the leaves painted white. He thought that was enough.
Had he been a diver, he would have liked the Ralf Tech Travelight Tech BC. Its a wing with a simple harness, sternum-strap and cummerbund, and nothing more.
Checking in at Heathrow to fly to the Maldives with 20kg of excess baggage, I mused on how much I would have paid extra in charges for a BC loaded down with stainless steel D-rings,
a complex harness, and lots of pockets.
As it was, they waived 10kg and I paid£275 for the other 10kg. Mondrian obviously had swingeing excess baggage charges in mind!

Left me wriggling
So much for the convenience of packing, but how was the BC in the water Well, I missed the pockets but I believe these can be fitted as an optional extra. I had to stuff my current-hook up inside the harness, where the waist strap passes through.
The Travelight Tech has the same fault that can be attributed to any wing that leaves a cushion of air to accumulate high up above the shoulder straps. It left me wriggling to get the last of that air out of its buoyancy cell on the way up.
The corrugated hose gets pulled right up to the restriction of the Velcro-covered hose-routeing, and woe betide you if you forget to fasten this, as the hose is in danger of going missing behind you. It simply needs the buoyancy cell to be attached to the harness at the top.
Alas, as it is, the pull-dump on top of the corrugated hose is pointless. Pulling on it serves only to deform the wing and make the air within it collect at the opposite corner.
The only reliable way to dump air during an ascent is via the solitary bottom dump, which requires you to be at least horizontal in the water if not slightly head-down, and right buttock up.
GUE/DIR followers will think this normal, and it became normal for me during the weeks diving. You have to get used to the technique.
Of course, you wouldnt want to go bum up with a drysuit (thats how uncontrolled inverted ascents can start) but you shouldnt be using a BC like this for buoyancy control in a drysuit if you are properly weighted in the first place.
Before you rush for pen and paper, the Travelight Tech wing is intended solely for use with a single tank and you dont need to use it for buoyancy control under water when wearing
a drysuit with a single tank if you are properly weighted.
The only other way to dump air is to raise the corrugated hose and let air out by operating the manual inflation valve. This, of course, lets water back in the other way. Some of you will be raising your eyebrows when you hear me say this, as I usually steer clear of this method.
When the buoyancy-cell is fully inflated at the surface, it makes a fat cushion behind you. There is a slight danger that it will interfere with the regulator hose route, making it tug uncomfortably from the mouth.
I turned my turret-style regulator first stage head-up to stop this happening, even though I could feel it touch the back of my head from time to time under water. At least at this time the fully inflated cell is so separate from the harness that there is absolutely no torso-squeeze, and there seems to be plenty of surface support.
If less is more is your bag, and packed weight is at a premium, this little wing could suit you well. The Ralf Tech Travelight Tech is available in four sizes from S to XL and costs £339.
  • Denney Diving 01642 486666, www.divingdirect.co.uk


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