Elite Instructor Interview: Chris Azab, PADI Course Director

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Chris Azab, a highly experienced PADI Course Director and Tec Deep/Trimix Instructor, has been diving “a long time” and was awarded the status of PADI Elite Instructor 2015 earlier this year, an award which recognises the achievements of PADI’s top performing instructors around the world.

With an impressive 11,000+ dives in her logbook, Chris conducts Instructor Development Courses in the Netherlands and Egypt, teaching in her mother tongue of Dutch as well as English, German and Arabic.

PADI Regional Manager Teo Brambilla caught up with her to learn more about her achievements as a PADI Pro, and what being a PADI Elite Instructor means to her.


chris-azab-studentsWhat inspired you to become a PADI Professional?

Ever since I started diving in 1998, I’ve loved the underwater world and its beautiful creatures. I wanted to show them to other people, so in 2001 I became a PADI Pro.

How do you think you’ve changed – personally and professionally – as you’ve moved up the ranks to become a PADI Elite Instructor?

Personally, I’ve changed my whole life! I was working for a banking and insurance company, and chose a different lifestyle. Since 2004 I have been working full time in the diving industry, making people happy. I’m always proud of what I’m doing; working as a professional teacher, thinking positively all of the time – that’s how I reached the PADI Elite Instructor status.

chris-azab-studentWhich PADI courses do you enjoy teaching the most, and why?

I love to teach new PADI Instructor candidates, that’s why I became a PADI Course Director – I see so many positive changes in people. Another favourite is the Tec Sidemount course, it’s great to do dives with more tanks on the side before moving on to further Tec courses.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?

Becoming a Silver PADI Course Director and PADI Tec Trimix Instructor. One day I hope to achieve Gold status, and then Platinum. Teaching people is my passion!

chris-azab3What does diving give you that nothing else does?

During diving, it’s the silence… and then after each dive I love the smile on each diver’s face. And that’s the same for teaching, as well – seeing that smile.

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now?

When I started my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, the Night Adventure Dive was mandatory, but I really didn’t want to do it. I reached two meters and quit the dive, but I still wanted to become an Advanced Open Water Diver… My PADI Instructor took me to Marseille, France, and let me try it again. I succeeded – not with pleasure, but I did it. The next night dive I booked was during a holiday in Egypt, and from that moment forgot my fears and I’ve found night diving great ever since.

chris-azab2Do you believe you change others’ lives through teaching scuba diving?

Absolutely. Students change from shy to confident, and I’ve had students suffering from depression turn into positive and active people. Some become PADI Instructors, quitting their jobs and travelling around the world. Some even started their own PADI Dive Center. I’ve given students the power to overcome any fear, I’ve given disabled students freedom, and helped people become positive. That’s why I want to do this job as long as I can – it’s amazing to change lives.

How does it feel to be recognised as one of PADI’s Elite Instructors in 2015?

It’s a result of hard work… being a real PADI Professional with quality teaching. I’m proud of it!

What would you say to other PADI Instructors hoping to become Elite Instructors?

Follow your heart and your dream. You are your only limit.

And finally, what does “my PADI” mean to you?

“My PADI” is my way of living. It’s a lifestyle, supported and promoted by PADI and I’m proud to be a part of it. I want to follow this lifestyle as long as I can. It’s not always easy, but I’d still choose this life. It’s an adventure as well, so let’s go for it. I remember the words from my PADI Open Water Diver course a long time ago and they still count; meet people, go places and do things. So, for now, I’m on my way to Malta…


Find out more about the 2016 PADI Elite Instructor Award.

Find out more about Chris Azab via her website.

TecRec Expedition South Africa

This is a start of a series of articles about a TecRec Expedition in South Africa where a team of TecRec Divers are looking for a submarine and a pre-historic fish. The article series starts with a blog by Jonas Samuelsson, PADI Regional Manager and TecRec Instructor Trainer, about what technical diving means for him. Then Patrick Voorma, TecRec Instructor Trainer, describes the objectives of the South Africa Expedition during May month. We hope by our series of articles we can inspire others to explore the wonders of this world.

What does technical diving mean for you?

During a flight from United States to Europe last year I started to talk to the passenger sitting next to me. I explained that I just been diving some caves in Mexico. Hearing this he asked me what technical diving was and why I thought it was so interesting. I gave a pretty conventional answer, but later during the same flight I was thinking about the question further.

What does technical diving really mean for me and why does it fascinate me so much?

The definition of technical diving is pretty straight forward. It is defined simply as a diver who enter an overhead environment like a caves or a wreck. It is when you are diving with mixed gases and can not go straight up to the surface due to decompression obligations. That’s the basic idea of it at least. But is that really the definition of technical diving? Perhaps so in technical terms. For me however its stands for so much more. Technical diving for me is more about the possibilities the equipment and training offer. To be able to explore a world beyond most.

earth-and-the-moonFor me there always been a pararell between space and underwater explorations. Lot of the technical challenges space explorers face is also faced by a technical diver. We are both entering in an environment different than the one that we evolved into living in. Only 12 people have ever walked on the moon but even less have ever dived deeper than 300 meters. To enter these worlds takes years of planning and would not be possible without an abundance of complex life supporting equipment. Is it a part of being human to explore and try to push the established boundaries.

But is there any value of “just walking on the moon” or “just diving deep” you might ask yourself. For me it is because the process of doing so, we discover as much about our self as we are developing techniques useful not only in our own field, but in other fields as well. Perhaps a greater understanding how gases effects the human body in extreme environments and the development of rebreather technology used by divers might one day assist the first human’s habitat other planets. But space and underwater explorers have so much more in common than purely the technical. Both groups of explorers share an idea, a philosophy. Inherent for all exploration of all types is the opportunities that it opens up to the people doing the exploring. For some it is the opportunity to gain new knowledge. For others it is the opportunity to create wealth and expand commerce. For still others the opportunity lies in grow spiritually and to gain a greater appreciation of the secrets among us. I

It could be said that by not continuing to explore we face the risk of killing the spirit of adventure and by doing so something fundamental within us would also die. Exploration is what inspire us to greater things and to move mankind forward. It gives us hope and meaning. The environmental movement started with pictures taken of our blue planet from space by the first space explorers. First then did we realize how fragile our planet is and why it is so important to act now to prevent us from destroying all the beauty that took millions if not billions of years to evolve. My hope is that our pictures and videos from the depth of the oceans and lakes would inspire people in the same way as those pictures taken from space.

jonasMarcel Proust said “the true voyage of discovery is not so much about finding new landscape as to get a new pair of eyes”. The ocean takes up more than 75% of our planet. The ocean got an average depth of 2000 miles and is home of a larger biodiversity and bio density than the rain forest. The ocean has more earthquakes and volcanoes than on land. You find the longest mountain range in the ocean. Most animals live here, and it is mostly unexplored. For example during our expedition in Iceland in June 2011 we dived and filmed geothermal chimneys. Those chimneys was discovered first in 1989 and many believe that it was in chimneys like those in Iceland where life began. Life around those chimneys survives through chemo syntesis rather than photosynthesis which means that all the life supporting energy is coming from the inside of the earth rather than the sun.

Our hope is that our images from places like the chimneys on Iceland would give people those new eyes that Marcel Proust referred to.  And with those new eyes have a better understanding how unique and fragile the underwater landscape is. By seeing all the wonders and beauty that lies beneath perhaps we also would also realize that benefit of protecting it. I remember as a little boy sitting by the lake close to the house where I grew up. I looked down, and I was wondering, what was down there. I wanted to explore it. Today, as a technical diving instructor, I am able to explore wrecks, caves, reefs together with some amazing people while traveling around the world and for me that is one of the things that makes life worth living.

Exploration gives us hope that the future can be better, for us and for future generations. Technical diving gives you the tools to do just that….

SUBMARINES AND COELACANTHS Expedition 14 to 23 MAY 2015

3Durban’s Ghost Fleet In 1685 the sailing ship The Good Hope ran aground off the Bluff, South Africa and became the first recorded wreck of the Durban bay. There are 141 recorded wrecks off Durban and many more unrecorded. In the past two years we have been exploring the coastline around Durban in search of some of these wrecks. The first wreck we found was the Namaqua or uMZimvubu as she was best known as. She sunk in 1932. She is at 60 meters approx. 6km NEE of the Durban Harbour.

The next wreck was the Sir Gordon, the dredger attributed to building the Durban Harbour. She lies in 65m Our most exciting find was that of the HMS Otus, a British Odin class submarine, scuttled in 1946. She is at 105 meters. On the 24 January 2014, 30 years after she sank we found the MV Cape Columbine, a fishing trawler that sprung a leak and sank in 65m. The next exciting discovery was the US Nahma, one of the most expensive private ships built in 1898. She sunk in 1933 and lies in 75m. The last wreck we discovered is at 75m but I am yet to identify her. We have called it Durban’s Ghost Fleet. During my searching for these wrecks I have come across a couple of stories about two possible submarines that were sunk off Durban amidst much secrecy.

shot 001Amongst others, I have spoken to a navy and later commercial diver, who says that he had personal knowledge of these two submarines. He provided me with the approximate depths and positions that he could remember using Durban landmarks. They had no GPS at that time. For the past two years I have been searching this area and am now confident that I have found the position of one of these submarines. She lies at 80 meters.

2I have been fortunate enough to have dived with the late Peter Timm on numerous occasions. Peter discovered the prehistoric fish, the Coelacanth, thought to have been extinct for more than 30 million years in Sodwana’s Jesser Canyon. He has identified more than 19 individual fish before his untimely passing. Peter was confident that if we were to find a similar canyon off Durban on the 100m Isobaths we would find Coelacanths.

After many hours of searching out at sea using sonar, I have managed to find such a canyon off Durban. So this now all sets the scene for our planned Submarine and Coelacanth expedition in May 2015.

  • 14 May:               Assemble gear, briefings, final coordination of plans and teams
  • 15 May:               Check out and shake down dive Max depth 30m.
  • 16 May:               60m Dive, procedures, support divers and emergency plans
  • 17 May:               Discover a Submarine 80m
  • 18 May:               Revisit the Submarine 80m
  • 19 May:               HMS Otus Submarine 105m
  • 20 May:               Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
  • 21 May:               Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
  • 22 May:               Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
  • 23 May:               Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m

Roger Horrocks will be the cameraman to film this expedition. He has been involved with many underwater documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery, BBC and Disney Channel. He will be filming using the Red Dragon Camera and Gates housing. The team members involved in this expedition will be the following:

  • Jonas Samuelsson: PADI Course Director, Tec Trimix Instructor Trainer
  • Patrick Voorma: PADI Course Director, Tec Trimix Instructor Trainer
  • Allan Maclean: PADI Dive Master, Tec Trimix Diver
  • Karl Kruger: PADI Master Instructor, Tec Trimix Diver
  • Erik Brown: Tec Trimix Instructor
  • Roger Horrocks, Cameraman, Tec Trimix Diver

Expedition South Africa. Objective: Locate, identify and film a Coelacanth.

coelacanth_501_600x450The primitive-looking coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Coelacanths are elusive, deep-sea creatures, living in depths up to 700 meters. They can be huge 2 meters or more and weighing 90 kilograms. Scientists estimate they can live up to 60 years or more. Their population numbers are, predictably, not well known, but studies in the Comoros suggest only about 1,000 remain there. They are considered an endangered species.

A closer look at PADI Equipment Specialist Touch

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As existing scuba divers, your students will likely know that diving is an equipment-intensive activity. From accessories such as dive lights and underwater cameras, to essential gear like exposure suits, cylinders and regulators, there’s a lot of information for them to comprehend, especially at the start of their underwater adventures.

Unfortunately, many divers are reluctant to learn more about their equipment because they feel they’re not ‘mechanically inclined’. But here’s the good news to share with them: they don’t need a degree in engineering to understand how scuba equipment works; the Equipment Specialist Touch will help them to understand how (and why) certain pieces of scuba equipment work, as well as what components can fail and thus the need for regular servicing.

The PADI Equipment Specialist Touch is a fully interactive and comprehensive digital product for iOS and Android tablet devices. The product covers the following topics:

  • Owning your own gear
  • Scuba Systems
  • Scuba Cylinders
  • Cylinder Valves
  • Regulators
  • Rebreathers
  • Instrumentation
  • Enriched Air Equipment Considerations

This valuable tool provides a beautifully immersive look into scuba equipment through short video clips and 3D rotating images to enable students to obtain a clear visual representation as to how things work and how components fit – and work – together.

Whether students plan to invest in their own gear, or just want to learn a bit more about it in general, the PADI Equipment Specialist Touch will teach them the benefits of owning their own equipment, how to choose it and apply it best across various scenarios, and considerations on care after they’ve invested. What’s more, this fantastic tool is perfect for first-time learners through to experienced divers who want to refresh their equipment knowledge at a later date before taking additional PADI courses.

To find out more and/or to get your own copy contact your PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa Sales Consultant by email ([email protected]) or by telephone (+44 117 300 7234)

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PADI Open Water Diver Touch now available in multiple languages!

PADI Open Water Touch now available in French, German and English

With the growing trend of consumers moving towards mobile devices and interactive displays, it was only natural for PADI to continue to lead the way in technological advancements within the dive industry. The PADI Open Water Diver Touch Digital Certification Paks are now available in Arabic, Dutch, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Korean and English with the exciting news that there will be many more languages coming out soon.

These Certification Paks bring the traditional Crew Pak to a fully integrated digital-delivery system and a welcome addition to the ever expanding PADI Digital Product Suite. To download the full PADI Digital Product Suite brochure click here.

Open Water Certification Pak – Offline (Touch) includes:

  • Open Water Diver Touch
  • Open Water Diver eManual
  • Open Water Video clips
  • eRDPml Touch/RDP Tables
  • eTraining Dive Log
  • Certifying Credit (PIC)

Where do I find it?

PADI Library App, and ScubaEarth for the eTraining Dive Log

Who can purchase it?

PADI Members can purchase it via PADI Sales Consultants or the PADI eShop.

Students can purchase it through padi.com.

For more information about how to buy and sell PADI Touch products click here

Do I need an internet connection?

This is only necessary for the initial download to the PADI Library App, to submit Knowledge Reviews, Quizzes, Final Exam and to Log Training Dives on ScubaEarth.

For more information and/or to order copies of the Open Water Certification Pak – Offline contact [email protected], call your PADI Sales Consultant (+44 (0) 117 300 7234) or visit the PADI eShop.

Valentine’s Day – The gift of diving

Valentine's Day Facebook advert (EN)

According to to this article the average American will spend $142 on Valentine’s Day. So here are a few things created by the PADI Marketing department for you to use on your Facebook business page to encourage your customers, who are struggling to find a gift for a loved one, to give the gift of scuba diving.

Click on the links below to download:

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  • [download id=”2016″ format=”1″]
  • [download id=”2018″ format=”1″]

We hope you have a great day and lots of love from the Team at PADI.

New PADI Businesses – 2014 Summary

New PADI Businesses

Last year in just the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, PADI has welcomed 206 new centres as members of the PADI Retailer and Resort Associations, and processed 142 membership upgrades for businesses committing 100% to PADI as Five Star or Instructor Development centres. Last month alone 5 new members were welcomed, and 15 upgrades processed. For the latest list of new and upgrading members click the ‘New PADI Retailer and Resort Members‘ link.

 

Introducing the revamped PADI App

PADI App

The completely revamped PADI App is now available for Apple iOS- and Android-based devices and helps improve and increase user engagement, drive awareness of diving, and create a one-stop mobile experience for everything related to diving.

The PADI App is the hub of the PADI digital suite – a place where users can go for further information and access their purchased digital products via the PADI Library App, which is integrated into the PADI App.

Key features of the new PADI App include:

  • PADI Dive Shop and Resort Locator integration with ScubaEarth® dive sites.
  • Top dive destinations and information about what divers can see there.
  • PADI social media and dive news feeds.
  • Information about PADI courses, including the option to purchase Touch products and PADI eLearning® programs.
  • Dive tools, quick references (such as knots and hand signals), as well as a variety of dive planning checklists and reminders.
  • The option to log dives within ScubaEarth® from the PADI App.
  • Access to PADI eCards™.
  • Direct link to the PADI Pros’ Site.
  • Access to PADI Gear™ collections.

Current PADI App users will see the new features on their next update, while new users can visit the App Store or Google Play Store to download the application.

PADI – Leading the digital revolution with the Equipment Touch

PADI Equipment Touch

PADI continues to lead the digital revolution and we are excited show you the new PADI Equipment Specialist Touch.

The Equipment Specialist Touch gives divers more information about owning their own dive gear and scuba system components such as regulators, cylinders, dive instruments, enriched air equipment and rebreathers. It’s a great supplement to the PADI Equipment Specialty course.

The Equipment Specialist Touch is an interactive, multimedia, tablet-based program that reviews the features and functions of current dive equipment. It includes the certification card processing fee and is a great product to provide in conjunction with equipment sales.

To find out more and/or to get your own copy contact your PADI EMEA Sales Consultant by email ([email protected]) or by telephone (+44 117 300 7234).

New PADI Businesses – November 2014

New PADI Businesses

So far this year in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, PADI has welcomed 218 new centres as members of the PADI Retailer and Resort Associations, and processed 123 membership upgrades for businesses committing 100% to PADI as Five Star or Instructor Development centres.

Last month alone 11 new members were welcomed, and 13 upgrades processed. For the latest list of new and upgrading members click the ‘New PADI Retailer and Resort Members‘ link.

Danny Dwyer – New PADI Vice President for Asia Pacific

PADI Worldwide is pleased to announce the promotion of Danny Dwyer to the position of vice president of Marketing, Sales, Field Services and Business Development at PADI Asia Pacific.

Danny began his diving career in the cooler waters of the south east coast of Australia and then moved to the Whitsundays area of Queensland in the early 1990’s to work as a PADI Instructor on day boats and overnight vessels. He moved to the prestigious Hayman Island Resort to manage the dive operation for two years before returning to the Whitsundays town of Airlie Beach when appointed as dive manager for one of the largest PADI Dive Centres in the Asia Pacific Region. Managing both large and small dive operations and honing his skills on day boats, overnight vessels, resorts and sea planes, Danny gained valuable experience in the busy Queensland dive industry of the 1990s. He was appointed as PADI Regional Manager for north east Australia and Papua New Guinea in 1999 and was based in beautiful Cairns Queensland. During his seven years as a regional manager, Danny enjoyed meeting and working with PADI Members, many of whom were among the largest certifying dive centres in the world. Danny assumed the position of Sales and Field Services manager in 2005 and that of Marketing and Business Development manager in 2008. In 2012, Dwyer was promoted to director, and subsequently in 2013, to senior director of Marketing, Sales and Field Services and Business Development. During his tenure with PADI Asia Pacific, Danny has enjoyed working with strong, focused and results oriented teams in Marketing and Sales and a dedicated team of PADI Regional Managers. He has worked closely with his colleagues throughout PADI Asia Pacific and PADI’s international regional headquarters to create a unified approach to assisting PADI Members exploit market opportunities effectively.

Danny will be joining Henrik Nimb, vice president of Training, Customer Service and Business Development, and Jeremy Coleman, vice president of Finance and Operations on the PADI Asia Pacific top executive team.

In promoting Danny to the position of vice president in the PADI group, Richardson says, “We are both proud and delighted to have Danny join our top global executive team of vice presidents. The talent he brings to the PADI team will be of great value to our members and industry alike. With his expanded influence, Danny will add additional fuel to the number one diver certification brand with the most powerful business support and marketing muscle in the industry.”