The French invented scuba-diving as we know it. Yes, you may not like it but its true. It was Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze who first came up with the idea of scuba-diving, but it was in occupied France during the war that Emile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau got the idea off the ground.
 We were spared an underwater invasion by Nazi divers only because they couldnt find any tanks big enough (and those Tiger tanks were pretty big!).
 That was then and this is now. Today Beuchat continues to hold the tricolore for French-made scuba-diving equipment.
 The Beuchat VX200 is a top-range regulator with a diaphragm-type first stage that comes equipped with four medium-pressure and two high-pressure ports. The rather large black plastic second stage has a dive/pre-dive venturi control and a breathing-resistance adjustment knob.
 Large parts of this second stage are made of metal, and it has a finned metal heat-exchanger in-line where the mp hose connects, so that it looks perfectly suited for use in cold fresh water. Its a great pity we werent sent one for our recent coldwater regulator test.
 French divers still tend to sport Clemenceau moustaches, smoke untipped Gitanes and like to refresh themselves with a tot of pastis after a dive. They havent just started wearing black because of tech-diving fashion because they never stopped wearing black from the days when that was all you could get.
 Typically, the VX200 seems to represent some good old-fashioned values too. I used it alongside another top-performing regulator, an Italian Mares Abyss, and felt that it gave air in equal measure. Of course, there were some slight differences, but nothing of any significance.
 I especially relished the large conventional mouthpiece and the old-style exhaust T that routed exhaled bubbles away from my line of sight. The purge button was exactly that, a button. You couldnt mistake it, and the purge is just what you want à not too strong but otherwise very effective.
It is one of those bits of kit that you use and forget about. No one at a dive site is going to bother asking you about its technical spec, or even how much it cost. Its just not that glamorous. It may even be regarded as boring by some, but it does the job and it costs £329.
  • Typhoon International, 01642 486104, www.typhoon-int.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Good performer

    - Unexciting