Friday, 14 May 2021

Croatian Diver Budimir Šobat Featured in Guinness World Records for Longest-Ever Breath Hold!

May 14, 2021 - Croatian diver Budimir Šobat surpassed his record for the longest time breath held voluntarily by 22 seconds, and this time, it was not just for his beloved daughter Saša - but for the people of the earthquake-distraught city of Sisak as well. Guinness World Records even featured Budimir for his feat earlier this week. 

A new world record for static apnea free-diving has been set in a pool in Sisak, Croatia, on the 27th of March, 2021. Ranked as one of the best divers in the world, according to the International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), Budimir Šobat, better known as Buda, held his breath for a total time of 24 minutes and 33 seconds superseding his last successful attempt 3 years ago by an impressive 22 seconds.


Featured in the Guinness World Record published by Connie Suggitt on May 12, 2021, the celebrated Croatian diver proudly declared that the inspiration behind this feat was once again his daughter - who has been battling cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism throughout her life. When asked how he overcame the difficulties and dangers that come along with attempting a record like this, Buda answered: "The greatest motivation of all is my 21-year-old daughter, Saša, who has autism. My results are giving me the media space, and then I can speak about autism awareness". And even though the earthquake damage made it "almost impossible" for him to train during the beginning of this year, the 56-year-old diver persevered through his rigorous training and managed to perfect his breathing technique just a few weeks after resuming - making the impossible, possible.

He also mentioned that focusing on his heartbeat was the key to win in this mental sport - as how he views static apnea diving to be. After hyperventilating himself with pure oxygen for 30 minutes (the maximum amount of time allowed as per guidelines to ventilate before an attempt), he managed to stay underwater for 22 seconds more than the record he had set 3 years ago. "While I am doing my maximum static apnea, I have my eyes closed and all I am focused on is to try to hear my heartbeat. Once I heard it I became calm and ready to fight the time.", he revealed.


Nikola Cutuk / PIXSELL

What makes this man even more remarkable is that he creates a platform through these events to raise awareness for people with disabilities. Last February 24, 2018, Buda dove as part of the "I'm Not Breathing" campaign in Zagreb which supported the autism centre his daughter goes to, and where he also successfully obtained the Guinness World Record for longest breath held voluntarily (male division) with a record of 24 minutes and 11 seconds. However, this year, the event was created to bring awareness and to raise funds for his hometown, Sisak, which was heavily affected by the recent major earthquake in Croatia that happened last December 2020. "We hope to raise some money for people in need because earthquakes destroyed the whole city of Petrinja," Buda said in an interview for Net.Hr. The funds collected will be used for the reconstruction of the Room of Miracles (Soba Čuda) of the Association of Persons with Disabilities of the Sisak-Moslavina County, whose premises were severely damaged by the recent earthquake.

Proving to all of us that the only person one should try to be better than is oneself, Buda claims his age does not hold him back at all. Quite the contrary, he believes it helps him persevere through the hardships so he could achieve even better results.

"I am addicted to training of any kind so I have no problem with motivation and I never stop dreaming about achieving the top results despite my age. Now I have proved that everything is possible if you are strong and dedicated. In fact, my age gave me a benefit of experience to stay calm at the critical moments."

Guinness World Record reports that the previous record was 24 min 3.45 secs, held by Aleix Segura Vendrell in Barcelona, Spain, on 28 February 2016.

The first documented attempt was by Robert Foster (USA), who voluntarily held his breath for 13 min 42.5 sec under 3.05 m on 15 March 1959.

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Friday, 15 November 2019

Istria: Diving Tourism Resulted in 200,000 Overnight Stays

Diving tourism in Istria resulted in 200,000 overnight stays and has become a strong motivator for visiting the peninsula.

According to Barbara Ban/Novac/JutarnjiList on November 14, 2019; as many as 200,000 overnight stays were recorded this year in Istria by tourists who came for one reason: diving. This number was reported at a meeting of the Diving Tourism Professionals Group at Croatian Chamber of Commerce in Pula on Wednesday. However, this figure does not include the number of day visits, which is very high during diving season, which lasts about six months.

- There are numerous diving centers operating throughout the year. Diving is a strong motivator for tourists who prefer a more unique vacation, so diving centers are also recognized as an important factor in the development of tourism in the County of Istria. Therefore, as the group pointed out at the Chamber of Commerce in Pula; it is important to cooperate with the local community, and network with other providers of tourism. By working together, they can create the highest quality destination service which meet the needs of guests in every segments of their stay.

This year, permits have also been granted for performing underwater activities in inland waters and territorial seas in areas where cultural assets are located, based on a public report issued by the Ministry of Culture.

- Diving centers are pleased with the cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and they have a mutual interest preserving the underwater cultural heritage of the Adriatic. Diving centers play an important role in the conservation of the undersea and ecology. After diving, divers often return with the waste they have collected offshore, says Marko Srečec, president of the Diving Tourism Professionals Group.

For this purpose, the group has launched an initiative with municipalities and cities for cooperation in the field of ecology and marine conservation.

- During the coming year, the group plans, among other things, to organize guest lectures at colleges and high schools in order to promote diving tourism as a profession and present activities to as many potentially interested young people who could find employment in diving centers, concluded Srečec.

For more information on tourism in Croatia, follow our travel section. More information about diving in Istria can be found here.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Verena Heinz: A Tragic Tale of a Diver's Life Lost in Croatia

Verena Heinz was a 20-year-old Austrian girl, who loved diving. Her love of diving was passed on to her from her father Dieter, an extremely experienced diver with over 15,000 dives under his belt.

Verena loved everything about diving, her father says that she started diving before she could walk, so she had a licence to operate a boat, she surfed, sailed, scuba-dived and free-dived. Dieter and Verena arrived in Malinska on the island of Krk on Wednesday, July 24th, had a light lunch and decided to go diving - that's why they came, after all.

They visited a local dive centre to ask the people who worked there to recommend some free-diving locations. One of the reasons why Verena came to Krk was to prepare for the arrival of Christian Redl, Austrian free-diving champion, who Verena helped train, so they were also scouting for the locations.

They took the advice and went to a diving location (most of the story is translated from an interview Dieter Heinz gave to Tomislav Kukec from Jutarnji list, who has been thoroughly reporting this tragic story ever since it happened). They had a meter-wide buoy with them, for protection, the water depth was around 15 meters at the location, and they dove alternately.

There were plenty of jet-skis and speedboats around them, but the visibility was excellent and they thought they were safe, marked with such a large buoy. Then a large speedboat started coming towards them at a high speed. They were certain that the driver would notice them and make a turn, they were quite visible, but that hasn't happened. The boat came way to close to them, the propeller of the speedboat's engine severed Verena's leg and she started sinking. Her father did everything he could to try to save his daughter, but Verena Heinz was too badly hurt to be saved.

The speedboat's driver came back to see what had happened and fell into shock. He is a 26-year-old, quite experienced man from Zadar, who was found not to have any alcohol in his system. There was another person on the boat with him, his 19-year-old colleague.

An ambulance came, took Verena to Rijeka hospital, her father says he wasn't allowed to come with, so he had to drive himself over there in his car, and once he got there he wasn't able to get any information about his daughter's condition, as supposedly none of the people working there knew any English or German (author's note: I find this very hard to believe, that none of the people working in a hospital in Rijeka couldn't communicate in English or German. It seems more likely to me that nobody wanted to tell the father in the state of shock what happened). Just one doctor spoke to him, informing him that his daughter couldn't be saved.

As soon as it happened, various versions of where the accident took place started appearing in Croatian media and official statements. First, it was said that the father and daughter team were diving at a distance from the coast of over 300 meters. That is forbidden; additionally, speedboats are allowed to reach full speeds at over 300 meters from the shore.

Dieter Heinz claimed that that is simply not true, that they were not that far from the coastline. He told the police and the reporters that he removed his diver's belt with the weights while he was trying to save Verena and that if they were able to find it, it would pinpoint the exact location of the accident. And that's exactly what the police divers were able to do, as yesterday it was reported that the weights (and Verena's leg) were found - at around 200 meters from the shoreline!

That means that the speedboat was not supposed to be going that fast (there was speculation that Dieter and Verena Heinz decided to dive right at a corridor which is dedicated to the boats, where they are allowed to go faster, but Dieter strongly denies that possibility). There's no explanation as to how it is possible that neither of the two people on the boat saw the pair of divers and their one-meter-wide red and white buoy, because at first they were in too much of a shock to give any statement, and later they maintained that the accident happened much further from the coastline. 

Another important fact is that it is not allowed to dive at over 100 meters from the shoreline, unless in an organized group and with a boat. Verena's father Dieter claims that this is not true, but the fact is that two people with one buoy should not be diving alone at 200 meters away from the shore in Croatia. That does not mean that the speedboat driver was allowed to go that fast, but there is a reason why such a wide buffer-zone exists, and unfortunately, we have (again) seen that reason this July.

The investigation into precise details of this accident continues. Dieter Heinz claims that he does not want the young speedboat operator to end up in jail, he just wants the truth to be known and that more people start paying more attention while at sea so that accidents like this one wouldn't happen as often as they do. Most public attention has been given to the horrible event when Tomislav Horvatinčić, a Croatian entrepreneur and serial traffic accident participant caused an accident with his yacht in which two Italians were killed.

Verena Heinz was finally laid to rest today, back in her home town of Strobl am Wolfgangsee, where some of her sporting and active friends held a moving tribute to her on Tuesday. Hopefully, her meaningless death will make people more aware of the rules and regulations at sea, and increased awareness of others who might be sharing the same space with us.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

SS Baron Gautsch - the Biggest Attraction for Divers in Croatia

One of the biggest attractions for divers in the Croatian part of the Adriatic is the sunken Austro-Hungarian passenger steamer ship, SS Baron Gautsch, which sank near Rovinj in 1914.

Divers love going to sunken ships, it is considered one of the biggest attractions of getting below the surface, seing what humanity has permanently deposited at the bottom. One of such destinations in Croatia that gets most attention and the biggest number of diving visitors each year is the SS Baron Gautsch wreck, located at the coordinates 44° 56' 25" N, 13° 34' 40" E at the depth of 28 to 40 meters.

Back in the day, she was the pride of the Austrian passenger navy, a 85 meter long steamboat that connected ports in Austrian Istria and Dalmatia before the WWI, but was used for humanitarian missions during the war. She was on one on the 12th of August, 1914 as well, taking civilians from Kotor to Trieste, when the captain got too close to the minefields set near the Rovinj port by the Austrian Navy. She hit one of the mines and sank completely within minutes, taking many of the civilians on board to the bottom. Many Austrian vessels were in the vicinity, and they managed to save 159 people from the water, while the official number of casualties stands at 147.

The wreck is situated at the bottom in an upright position, giving it an eery appearance of still afloat. The masts and other details have been broken, and propellers have been removed. The hole in the full of the boat, caused by the mine, is still clearly visible. Because of the depth of up to 42 meters, experienced advanced divers are allowed to make the dive.

The wreck is protected by the Ministry of Culture, so in order to dive to it and to explore, you need to dive with one of the authorised diving centers (most diving centres from Istria are authorised for this dive).

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Dubrovnik Divers to Clean Seabed in Zaton Mali

The Dubrovnik Diving Club announces another praiseworthy action, putting the underwater environment first.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

''View into the Blue'' On Way to Pazin!

Fancy perfecting your diving skills? Head to Pazin!

Friday, 18 May 2018

The 3rd Mares Underwater Photo Marathon Cup Shines Light on Krk Island

The southwestern waters of Krk Island were recently the location of the already prestigious underwater photography competition: the 3rd Mares Underwater Photo Marathon Cup

Sunday, 6 May 2018

View into the Blue: Free Diving Crash Course on Rab Island

May 6, 2018 - Ever wanted to try scuba diving, but don't have the time for a full course? You're in luck!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Babin Kuk Cleanup: Dubrovnik Divers Get to Work

One in a long line of many pre-season cleanup operations for the seabed of the wider Dubrovnik area.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Diver Dies Near Hotel Palace Beach in Dubrovnik

Another horrific incident takes place in the usually safe waters around Dubrovnik.

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