The University of Sussex Sub Aqua Club had an extremely successful and enjoyable trip to Porthkerris, Cornwall, over the Easter Weekend. While staying in a small caravan park a few miles from the Dive Centre, the 9 students and 3 instructors managed to complete over 100 dives in only 5 days. While the week started with the typical West Country drizzle, it culminated in brilliant sunshine and a day on the sandy shores of Northern Cornwall, the participants leaving red faced and grinning from the first real sunshine of the year.
The diving was a huge success, with two new Drysuit divers taking to the water extremely well, braving the chilling temperatures of the Atlantic. One of which, Ella Surman-Wells, a new student instructor, who, having never dived in a Drysuit before the trip built up some incredibly valuable experience, and excelled in helping some of the newer divers get to grips with the UK seas, many of whom, like her, had learnt to dive abroad. Additionally, we were hugely lucky to welcome a new instructor to the club, Lucy Gough, who took part in instructing, helping more students to vastly progress in their diving qualifications. Aside from this, the two usual non-student members of the club, the Diving Officer Neil Watson, and Daniel Elliott - who completed his 5 year project to becoming a Dive Leader on this very trip - proved exemplary in their instruction of the student body. Without these experienced and dedicated members, it is entirely obvious that the club could not continue to function at its current capacity, and trips like these would be impossible.
Furthermore, as well as gaining a new Dive Leader in the club, Liam Beckett also completed his Sports Diver qualification, emphasising the new experience that is being brought to the club, allowing it to grow and expand in both its activities and members - forming an integral part of student life for those involved. The two active Sports Divers that the club already boasts, Evan Thomas and Helena Dipple also made their first steps towards becoming Dive Leaders themselves, which, in practice, means that this group of USSAC divers is fast becoming some of the most qualified and able that the club has ever seen. This is reflected in the growth that the club is experiencing with its intake of wholly new divers, hoping to achieve their Ocean Diver qualifications through similar trips such as Vobster, occurring later this month, enabling them to gain the invaluable experience that is required to make such a sport possible.
With all of these newly qualifying and ever improving divers, the universities funding of the trip was an invaluable asset, allowing the students to take part in more boat dives, where they could advance to different depths and conditions that were simply not possible if restricted to the Cornish shores. The conditions in Porthkerris were also vastly advantageous to learning some of the more advanced skills some divers required, due to the incredible visibility that is sometimes difficult to attain in Sussex alone. Equally, more students were able to take part in this trip, thanks to the Students Union, and, as I have said, these trips are fundamental for the club due to the sheer quantity, quality and diverseness of the diving offered to the students.
Every diver who took part in the trip gained something from it, from increased confidence in diving as independent diving buddies, to the vast advancement in technical skills and qualifications gained. All the while, being followed by Dolphins, keeping a measured distance from gargantuan Barrel Jellyfish and watching Seals bask in the Cornish sun. The Barbecue on the beach under a glowing red moon, that followed many of the students first night dive, could only be equalled by the superb Cornish Cream Teas, that fuelled what would prove to be a week of new experiences, new friends and some of the most fantastic diving that the UK has to offer. All of which, emphasised just how effective the Students Union could be in helping Sussex University students in not only their academic studies, but following their own interests and hobbies, creating a wholly unique university experience that I hope will continue to flourish in East Sussex.