BC Cressi Sub S111
When it comes to buoyancy control, an inverted plastic carrier bag (choose a strong one) with one arm passed through the handles up to the shoulder works very well. You can easily add exhaled air to the open end, and when it comes to dumping air during an ascent you simply squeeze the bag at the top with your free hand. Try it. It really is simple and inexpensive.
     The carrier bag works very well, but a properly constructed BC adds benefits such as the convenience of holding your tank on your back and keeping most of your kit in one convenient package, and it can give you essential support at the surface.
     This idea probably would not please the Doing It Right brigade, which seeks to promote the products of one small (and expensive) diving supplier in Florida against competition from the giants of the diving trade, but then, no DIR diver would bother reading a heretical magazine like this one. So lets look at a very good conventional BC, the Cressi S111.
     Antonio Cressi runs the business his father and uncle started just after WW2. Like them, he loves to go diving. Not long ago the staff came up with the design of BC he said he wanted to use, the S-102. But Mr Cressi keeps spotting ways of making it better, which explains why we are now looking at the Cressi S111!
     The last one I tried was the S-109 but the S111 seems to have been simplified somewhat (including the loss of its hyphen) and given more maximum buoyancy. It has 19.5kg of lift in size M - thats about 4.5kg more than the S-109 in the same size.
     Adopting the wide-weave fabric of the fold-up Aqualight BC and doing away with the double-pull cords that go to the upper-right and lower-right dump valves makes this a BC with ostensibly fewer features. In fact Mr Cressi seems to have opted for only those features he found strictly necessary.
     The S111 comprises a harness threaded through a hard backpack that has a curved lumbar support and a separate conventional T-shaped buoyancy bag. This is attached to the backpack and has the harness threaded through it. By adjusting the position of the curved lumbar support and the length of the cummerbund where it meets it, the S111 can be tailored precisely to fit the user.
     The buoyancy bag concertinas out when fully inflated at the surface, giving masses of lift low down where you need it, and lifting your head high out of the water, with no hint of torso squeeze. Two adjustable elasticated straps stop it flapping on the dive.
     A single tank camband is provided with two alternative sets of slots so that you can rig it conveniently to either a steel tank or higher up on an aluminium tank.
     There are four large stainless-steel D-rings at the shoulders and two more along the lower edge of the jacket. Two smaller D-rings mid-way proved perfect for attaching my favourite implement, the reef hook. The not overly large self-draining pockets are equipped with zips and proved easy to get into.
     The pull-dump positioned at the top of the corrugated hose of the direct-feed and the pull-dump with front toggle at the opposite shoulder are both designed so that when force is applied they get positioned at the top of the buoyancy bag, so no air gets trapped.
     There is also a bottom dump with a toggle located so that you can easily find it if descending head-down. I found it convenient to tuck the direct-feed hose out of the way under the sternum strap and use the right shoulder dump.
     What makes this BC interesting is its integrated-weights system. We get so many letters from people who have experienced an inadvertent loss of their weights with dramatic consequences. I cannot think that this would happen with the Cressi system.
     The weight pockets are secured by both a press-stud and opposing layers of velcro, and from an upright position you have to lift the weights vertically upwards to pull the weight packets from where they are stowed. Even when swimming horizontally, the weight of the leads bears down on to a permanently fixed part of the pocket rather than velcro.
     Trim-weight pockets at the rear are closed by both velcro flaps and a press-stud, and they prove useful for counteracting the buoyancy encountered with the aluminium cylinders that are standard issue at most dive centres abroad.
     I used the S111 with a 15 litre steel tank and 4kg of lead, a 15 litre aluminium tank with 10kg of lead, and a 12 litre aluminium tank with 9kg of lead. In every case I found my trim was perfect. I was exceedingly comfortable, and there was never any danger of a sudden unwanted weight loss!
     So the Cressi S111 is a simple, efficient, well-made item that might not be too exciting to read about but does its job admirably. In my book Cressi has done it right.
     The S111 comes in sizes XS-XL and costs £388.
  • Cressi UK 01342 310130, www.cressi-sub-agents.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet Divernet
    Both the weight pockets and the trim-weight pockets at the rear are secured by press studs and velcro. They are designed to avoid the weights putting pressure on velcro
    + Can be tailored by you to fit perfectly
    + Very secure integrated-weights system

    - Very conventional
    - Zipped pockets rather small
    - Not too many frills