MY FIRST DRYSUIT was of a highly reputable Swedish make that was supplied only in off-the-peg sizes. The problem was that to fit my youthful 6ft-plus height, it came with enough space for a 50in waist. This was in the days when real men thought Mick Jagger was
a ballet-dancer, and skinny blokes like me got sand kicked in our faces at the beach. Evidently, I was not an off-the-peg size.
I still bear the scars in my memory of that long swim on the surface at Stoney Cove, after I got lost under water and came up on the wrong side of the lake while wearing that Swedish suit. I recall how all those swathes of excess heavy latex rubber formed folds to resist my progress through the water.
I eventually made it, but even then, in my 30s, my fitness to dive was called into question by the experience. A good suit should fit you perfectly. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter how good its manufacturer’s reputation is.
When Sean and Marcus at O’Three supplied me with one of their Ri2-100 suits more than a year ago, they went to great lengths to make sure it was a perfect fit.
It’s been a long time since I had that bell-ringer’s job at Notre Dame in Paris, but they took trouble to accommodate my hump, and it was worth it.
Well, it was to me, because it’s such a perfect fit that I quite forgot to return it once I’d finished my research for a DIVER Test. I’ve since used it repeatedly all over the world; in the Red Sea in midwinter and in the Mediterranean in midsummer, let alone the delights of Vobster or Wraysbury Lake at any time of year. It swims almost like a wetsuit.
Times have changed, and I assume that the meat-pie industry has gone into deep recession, because the lads at O’Three have sent me another suit to try – and this time it’s an off-the-peg size.
It seemed to fit me well, which precipitated a hasty visit to the bathroom mirror to see if I had suddenly grown a massive beer gut.
“Just a little,” was the judgment handed down by my ruthless and uncharitable wife.
I guess that, over the years, the off-the-peg sizing regime and my body dimensions have met halfway.

The Suit
If you’re in the market for a cheap suit, look away now. This is a suit for those who want the best, and in real life you usually get what you pay for.
The O’Three Ri 1-100 CCN is made from even narrower-gauge material than that other O’Three suit I love so much. The constant-compression Neoprene is hardly more than 1mm thick. The inner side of the Neoprene is laminated to keep the water out.
Secretly tucked away inside the suit, the structure and support imparted by the internal material O’Three calls “Contained Core Laminate” explains the constant-compression Neoprene’s increased strength and watertightness, despite its reduced thickness.
The outside of the suit is impregnated as usual with waterproofing resin.
With less Neoprene to compress, there are fewer buoyancy changes caused by changes in depth. Sean and Marcus would claim insulation characteristics too, but that’s what an undersuit is for, and I wore a couple of layers of O’Three’s base-layer garments in combination with the suit for good measure.
Henry Royce once said that he made his money by perfecting existing technology rather than inventing new ideas, and this seems to be the route O’Three takes. There
is nothing strikingly new about this suit once you get past the material.
It is available with a diagonal front zip, but the suit I tried had a conventional BDM heavy-duty cross-shoulder zip concealed under a protective flap of Neoprene.
The Neoprene neck seal seemed identical to that of the Ri-200 suit, in that it needed to be inverted like an inside-out polo-neck for best comfort and water-sealing abilities – and very comfortable it is too.

Standard Spec
Tough moulded shoulder- and elbow-pads augment the knee-pads, probably because the boys at O’Three appreciate that the thinner material might wear at these points, with disastrous consequences. An Apeks low-profile dump and rotating inflation valve with lightweight Miflex hose; internal braces; anti-slip PU graphics; conical stretchy Neoprene wrist-seals; the slim thigh-pocket just big enough for a slate – these features are all included in the standard specification.
I like that the braces are in a contrasting colour to the interior of the suit. This saves me getting them and myself in a twist, especially when viewing the dark, cavernous interior of the suit in bright sunshine.
It’s gratifying to know that manufacturers sometimes listen to my gripes.
I like the way a changing mat is included in the bag. I like the way a bottle of Jollop is included for those of us who need to fight our way past the conical Neoprene wrist-seals.
I especially like the way the contoured footwear has a strap to pull it tight, excluding much air from getting trapped when going head-down for a moment. There are SOLAS reflective panels on the shoulders, too.
Of course, there are additional options, such as a pee-valve or a P-zip, cuff dump, different boots, more (or fewer) pockets or an attached hood. The hood supplied as standard is a separate vented semi-dry style.
The most important optional extra is to have a suit made-to-measure, especially if, unlike me, you are not an off-the-peg size or shape.
Either way, as it says on the O’Three website: “The Ri 1-100ccn is a high-end product aimed at the very elite of our sport.” I guess I was lucky it fitted someone as lowly as me!
As is my custom with all new drysuits, I initially took this one for a turn round Wraysbury Lake, rather than find out about any snags a lot further from home.
With the boot firmly on the other foot, so to speak, I then volunteered to bob in the water for quite a long time while Nigel Wade photographed various surface-marker devices.
The fact that I inadvertently left my electronic car key in the pocket of the base layer undersuit, and that I drove home without incident, demonstrates the internal dryness of the suit!
The Ri 1-100 CCN felt and performed indistinguishably from the Ri-200 suit with which I am now very familiar.
It was lucky I didn’t have to walk far to the water, however, because for some reason known only to themselves, Sean and Marcus had sent me a suit with size-8 footwear, whereas I take size 12.
Even Nigel winced when he helped me to pull my feet out of the medieval torture the pair had designed for me, but I was lucky. Without room for any insulation on my feet, they had gone numb with the cold.
You know what they say about men with big feet. We need big boots.

Bare SP System, £1030
Aqua Lung Fusion, £1081
O’Three Ri2-100, £949

OFF-THE-PEG PRICE £1049 with cross-shoulder zip, £1199 for front-entry
MATERIAL 1.1mm Constant-Compression Neoprene
INFLATION SYSTEM Apeks low-profile valves
OPTIONS Check with manufacturer
SUPPLIED WITH Semi-dry 5mm hood, bag, Jollop, Zip wax, inflation hose
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%