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How to start up a USAA chapter? (long)

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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We pee deep. Ew!
Sep 24, 2002
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I always enjoy your pithy view on life -- and I understand (and agree with) what you are saying. However, your post was a little general and I sensed some sarcasm (;)). Your reply seemed to assume that folks don't want to pay anything at all. I just want to go through the math here -- mostly so that I can quantify just how cheap I am, but with a secondary purpose to make the case that having one and only one contest tends to limit the pool of athletes - and we'd like to learn how we can do our part to remedy that (above and beyond signing checks, that is).

I would have been willing to pay the entry fee ($240), and the DAN or PADI insurance ($65 for DAN membership and Master insurance plan), and the USAA membership ($25 -- or is this the sanctioning fee they talk about as being included in the $240?) and the ferry to Catalina ($50). So $350-$375 -- fine, I'd pay that much.

But then throw in the time and expense involved in traveling, literally, all the way across the country (ignoring HI and the Aleutians for the moment) to the one and only qualifying event that they announced and it's a deal breaker. Not just he cost, but the timing thing. Folks who can drop $350 on a single contest tend to have jobs (and maybe kids, wives etc. etc.) and can't necessarily take a week off on short notice . Ideally the contests should be more about breath holding and less about flexibility of lifestyle, but I am digressing into bitching ... At least this time the qualifying event was on the mainland.

At any rate, if there were a local venue where we could have qualified -- and we have no shortage of facilities -- then I guarantee that there would have been more than 9 folks trying out. If it was even in FL I'd go (as would others), since airfare to FL is so cheap that it defies all known economic principles.

So basically, instead of just bitching we'd like to learn how to start a regional branch of USAA in the Northeast. If checks are required, who get’s 'em and in what amount? I'd love to have a contest in this region, maybe even this summer-- just for fun. If we help add to the qualifying pool for next year, that would be cool too. It would have been cooler still if there had been an inkling earlier in the year about when the Nationals would be -- maybe we could have had a regional contest this year. I gather that there was some technicalities that made this impossible. At any rate, we have some really good divers around here who would have turned in competitive performances. BTW, I'd like to thank Peter Satitpunwaycha (Longfins) for stopping by the ECF web page and signing up in order to be a USAA ambassador of sorts.

As an aside, I would be interested if folks in other countries could comment on how much competitions cost them. I'm going to guess that the U.S. is far more expensive because of liability issues. No agenda here -- I'm genuinely curious. For example, qualifying in Canada might be a cost effective option. Lot's more contests there and I'm guessing they're a bit less expensive. Can performances in Canadian events be used as input for the U.S. rankings? Kind of a freediving-meets-NAFTA thing?
Hi Pezman,

You have to remember that USAA was only formed last year some time, I'm sure they did the best they could. Most of the people involved had probably never organised a competition before. Sounds like they did a pretty good job, equipment problems and weather can't be controlled.

We have had one competition in Australia so far. It ended being close to where the organisers were, on the East coast. People from the west coast complained that it was unfair because it was too far for them to travel. I don't see what you can do about, unless like you said you can organise another local comp. Sounds like many of the competitors had to fly to get there so they were in the same boat as you. Look at the women's team, they flew from Hawaii, Northen California and Florida.

$240 does not sound unreasonable to me when you consider what's involved hire of pool, boats, cost of equipment like ropes etc.

Sounds like a great idea if you can get something started in your neck of the woods. Remember you need a lot of people to run a competition. And then the people that actually compete can't help out on the day. Perhaps worst case consider organising a pool competition. It's much harder to organise CB because of boats, equipment, safety divers weather etc.

When it comes down to it cost and travel is the story for almost all freedivers that compete internationally. There are very few divers or teams that get their airfares paid for. Even Martin and Herbert had to pay their own airfares to get to Cyprus.

I know 3 other guys that are diving 50m+ and doing 6.30 - 7.00 statics. It's not like we don't have talent here either but the costs and time off work involved makes it tough. Canada this year was a deal breaker for us, not just the expense, but the location. We had a team for the Pacific Cup, that cost about half the airfares compared to Canada. The main factor was actually people wanted to go dive in warm clear water. Now to pay double to freeze your butt off in Canada.... :duh

Some comments:
- There currently is a NAFTA between USAA and CAFA
- You can qualify for the US team by competing in Canadian CAFA competitions, and several US competitors attempted that this year; their results are shown not only on the CAFA site but also the USAA site

About 2004 Worlds:
- Strangely, people don't seem to realize that BC (or the areas near the worlds) has the best diving in the world, as voted by Rodale's magazine, and agreed even by Jacques Cousteau
- Many areas within half-a-day trip from the 2004 worlds site offer 30m+ visibility in emerald water, with life seen almost nowhere else in the world, such as gigantic cloud sponges the size of cars, gorgonian corals, giant octopus, countless others including the obvious marine mammals (seals, sea lions, orcas, sea otters)
- Tyler, Pete and I have all dove in the tropics and it really doesn't compare
- Surface water in summer is in the 18-23C range, with a thermocline to 12C around 3m; so yes, down deep it is cold, but what you'll see is well worth it
- I have some online videos of recreational dives I did in Tahsis. In the videos you'll clearly see the density and diversity of life down there is unmatched

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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Hi Eric,
I'm sure you have some great diving there. I myself have spent a lot of time diving in cold water and seen some amazing stuff. I love diving with Seals, and have seen Whales come up close to our boat.

Personally I don't perform as well at deep diving in cold water compared to warm water. I don't wish to start the whole cold vs warm water debate. I just meant In general it's much harder to convince people to go dive in colder water compared to somewhere tropical&warm. Specially this time of year, here in NSW the water is about 15 degrees. People have thoughts about getting away to warm sandy beaches, tropical water and blazing hot sun. :cool:

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Eric &Wal,


Based on Wals response, my e-mail must have still sounded kind of whiney. I was hoping that my post was clear on the point that I was ok w/ the fees and that the travel was the issue. On the other hand, he reinforced my main point -- several world-class athletes ended up being excluded from the Australian just because of geography. All part of living in a big country w/ widely scattered pockets of freediving, I guess.

If we can't organize a U.S. Northeast event next year, maybe we'll try to put a posse together for the CAFA Eastern Regionals next year. Ottawa is actually a pretty cheap flight from Philly. I was hoping to go this year, but I was in FL at the time (darn!;)).

Thanks to all the kind folks in CAFA, this was where I first competed and learned to judge. In fact, this is where all the organizers learned how all things comp-related should be done and how everyone's experiences were built - through the established, well-run competition machine that is CAFA.

Until some pesky issues like insurance etc. are ironed out (turns out we only had it for ONE event - the Nationals) cutting your competition teeth on CAFA comps is an excellent idea. The scores obtained there do count in the US ranking due to the 'NAFTA' (North American FREEDIVING Trade Agreement) thing we have going, and you get to see what an organization several years ahead of us looks like. Of course we're working hard to close the gap!

Peter S.
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I have some online videos of recreational dives I did in Tahsis. In the videos you'll clearly see the density and diversity of life down there is unmatched

Willing to post a link?

BTW -- thanks for all the great replies.

I ran the UK comp for the first time this year - ok we didn't have the problems with distance as our little land is a bit smaller - but we did have people there from all corners of it.

Out entry fee was £45 but we only had two events - Static and CW.

Each competitor also had to join the BFA for £15 a year which covers the insurance

I had calulated that I needed 40 entrants to break even. We got 28 entrants in the end but made up the difference with some t shirt sales and the odd donation of equipment (mainly from my father)

we did not pay all the gas costs for our scuba divers, partly as paying the scuba divers would have caught us up in difficult employment law and partly because most of them were generous enough to cover their own

but we ended up covering our costs

I think how much to charge is going to depend hugely on how much good will is out there, we are very lucky over here, the dive centre we use is incredibly generous and encouraging, our scuba team are very committed and using a lake meant we did not have to deal with all the usual boat/tide/weather stuff.

But still, $240 does sound extortionate to me!! should have been enough to cover a few FHOFs ...

If you want any help setting up a local group give me a shout, saltFree has grown massively in a year so we must be doing something right! one thing we do do which I think helps is keep politics to a minimum. We are not affiliated to anyone and will stay that way. We ask that everyone sticks to our safety rules but thats about it - no membership, no constitution, no hassle... basically a bunch of mates diving together, just slightly more organised than usual

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in the USAA nationals there were 4 women and 5 men, that's 9 total. $240 is about 130 pounds. So they had about the same amount of money if not a bit less money then you guys. They probably had to pay at least part of the cost to hire a boat, equipment perhaps. You didn't need a boat. Suspect they may have had more overheads then you guys. Like you said it really depends on much much people donated time and equipment. If you really had to pay for a boat and divers it would cost a lot more then $240 to break even. :t
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