I had a chance to try the LADYHAWK BCD, a back inflate, which I found very comfortable and easy to use. I liked all the adjustment points to make sure I had a perfect fit and the easy on/off tank band, but I found it a little difficult to dump all the air without shifting it around. As with most new equipment, there is a bit of an adjustment period, so perhaps that would go away with time. Howarde, who has only used a backplate/wing over the last several years and has NEVER used a weight integrated BCD, used the KNIGHTHAWK and commented that it was comfortable and found it very easy to maintain a trimmed diving position. The downside, he thought, is it almost forced him to stay in that position and it could be difficult for some people to roll over and take pictures.
Howarde used the MK25/A700. He's owned several MK25's, so he wasn't surprised by the performance, but liked the new sleeker design. He didn't get to put it through any real paces, but the A700 preformed well, similar to the S600 which he's owned for years.
Also tested were the SEAWING NOVA fins and the Galileo LUNA computer. While the fins were not my cup of tea, I thought the hoseless gas integrated computer rocked. It has a huge screen with all the information you'll need and includes a digital compass. Thanks to the three giant buttons it was easy to navigate through the different functions...even if you had thick gloves on. Howarde noted it had the best digital compass he's ever used, was the largest faced computer he's seen and was one of the easiest screens to read...his aging eyes appreciated this.
Howarde is not going to trade in his Rocket fins anytime soon, but he thought the SEAWING NOVA GORILLA fins were interesting. This fin design prefers a flutter kick, but he had no problem using alternate ones such as a frog kick. Again, we were diving in 30 feet with no current. We certainly wouldn't mind getting a chance to give them a real challenge.
The event was covered by Scuba Diving Magazine and SCUBALAB itself. Let's just hope that awkward picture of me putting on my wetsuit doesn't appear in the magazine. After the dive we took a quick survey, were given nice t-shirts, fed lunch and invited to attend equipment presentations. My overall assessment: It was a fun event with cool people, beautiful diving and top-notch gear. It was definitely worth the trip and would recommend attending one of the remaining events if you are in the area.
Remaining event schedule:
5.16.2012 - FLORIDA UNDERWATER SPORTS, INC
6345 SOUTH TAMIAMI TRAIL
SARASOTA, FL 34231
5.19.2012 - BIRD'S UNDERWATER
320 NW HIGHWAY 19
CRYSTAL RIVER, FL 34428
They recommend you book online. For more information: http://www.scubapro.com/en-US/USA/news.asp