Doing It Right

By David Strike

A term that's being heard increasingly often in recreational and technical diving. 'Doing It Right' ('DIR), is a snappy phrase that' s surrounded by debate and controversy - and one that's frequently misunderstood.

Coined by leading members of the Florida-based, Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) - one of the world's most experienced and succesful cave diving teams - 'Doing It Right' is more than just a proven system or equipment configuration. It's a holistic approach to diving that puts equal emphasis on fitness, experience, attitude, teamwork training and safety.

Refining the minimalist approach to equipment as practiced in the 'Hogarthian' system (named after noted cave-diving explorer, Bill Hoghart Main), the DIR system of gear configuration is centered on a standardised system that lends itself to any diving application, from single cylinder, open-water diving through to extreme exploration diving in an overhead environment.

Based on the concept that diving equipment should be streamlined and uncluttered - and that, from a safety viewpoint, diving buddies or members of a team should be as familiar with each other's equipment as they are with their own - the core elements of the DIR system consists of a rigid backplate (stainless steel or aluminium) with webbing harnass, a back-mounted, or wings-style, buoyancy device; an alternate regulator attached to a short hose; and a primary regulator attached to a long (1.5 to 2m) hose. Beginning with this simple platform, the DIR philosophy extends into every aspect of advanced and extended range diving.

Maintaining strong opinions about the use of appropriate equipment; its proper functioning; the correct way of routing the hoses; and the accompanying mind-set that recognises the dual benefits of training and experience advocates of the DIR system continue to attract criticism for their unyielding views.

Frequently regarded as taking an unnecessary austere approach to diving - particularly by those who favour personal preference when it comes to their equipment and how it should be rigged - the sound underlying principles behind the DIR system are often pushed into the background by fierce debates that emphasise personality differences rather than the obvious practical benefits of a universal system or equipment configuration.

This article was first published in Asian Diver Magazine (April/May 2001)

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