Diving Legend Jack W Lavanchy Dies

Today - Wednesday 27th January - we are exactly half way thought the 2016 Boot Show in Dusseldorf. A day that is celebrated by the exhibitors. As I write this, the clock is ticking until the Boot Show closes for the day. For this evening all the exhibitors at this amazing event join together to have a beer and share stories at a special party. Most the stories are joyous tales. Some are less so. As I walked into the dive hall this morning, I was grabbed by Dick Lucas, who told me the sober news that diving legend Jack W. Lavanchy had died overnight.

The word that everyone who knew him would use to describe him is "gentleman". He was a pleasure to be with and always had the vision for all divers to work together for the benefit of the sport.

Mark Caney, Vice President, PADI Technical Diving Division

Jack W. Lavanchy, Mark Caney, PADI, Glaukos, CMAS, Aqualung, JWL, Project AWARE, International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, Tauchen Awards, Richard Lucas, Lucas Dive Centre, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company

If you are a scuba diver, Jack Lavanchy is a name you ought to know. So let me tell you something about one of the early pioneers of the European Scuba Diving Industry.

What I liked about Jack was that he never had any fire. He always tried to see and do things together so that both parties benefited. A lot of people only look at their own profit margin. Jack Lavanchy always made sure the that he brought everyone along with him.

Richard Lucas, Lucas Dive Centre

Jack, known as 'Jacky' by many, was born in Switzerland. By 1947 he was living in Cannes, France. His house overlooked the sea and it was here he observed people snorkelling and skin diving the Mediterranean waters.

I first started snorkelling in Cannes in 1948 and in 1950 I did my first scuba dive in the Mediterranean with "Club Alpin-Sous-Marin de Cannes".

Jack Lavanchy

By the early 1960s he had become an instructor.

Jack Lavanchy was an active member of Switzerland’s oldest dive club, 'Glaukos'. He held several posts over the years within Glaukos, including Secretary, Vice-President, President and Head of the Technical Committee. He worked with the Swiss Diving Federation as the Glaukos delegate and attended CMAS General Assemblies. Apparently Lavanchy was a fervent supporter of simplicity and safety in teaching methods. He supported the development of the CMAS Scientific Commission.

We met all over the globe, where ever there was diving. I first met him when I crossed over from CMAS to PADI. I am lucky he mentored me. I loved the fact that with Jacky a handshake meant something. He was an old fashioned businessman in that he dealt with honour and had integrity and ethics. Today the diving world is a little poorer because he no longer walks amongst us.

Matthias Breit, Dive Point Red Sea

In 1956 Jacques-Yves Cousteau's pioneering documentary 'The Silent World' was released. It inspired many people including Jack Lavanchy.

In 1965 I became Switzerland's exclusive agent for La Spirotechnique and subsequently TECHNISUB. Then in 1968 I became their agent for Germany and Austria.

Jack Lavanchy

Jack Lavanchy established and co-owned JWL (Jack William Lavanchy) for thirty years. It later evolved into JWL Aqualung AG and was a major scuba gear distribution company. He also manufactured equipment under the name of JWL including weight belts, gloves, boots and neoprene suits.

My goal has always been to make the manufacturing and selling of diving equipment a serious professional and honourable business. I did everything I could to bring the Diving Industry closer together, instead of spending money, time and energy in quarrelling and lawsuits!

Jack Lavanchy

In 1983 Jack Lavanchy and his business partner Jürg Beeli were granted the European and Maldives franchise from PADI. Lavanchy and Beeli had recognised the potential for PADI to improve diver training and grow scuba diving in Europe and founded PADI European Services (PES). A year later, in 1984, the PADI European College was established. PES transitioned into PADI Europe in 1988 before becoming part of PADI EMEA.

I have always fought for unity and collaboration. It does not matter if you are a member of SSI, CMAS or PADI. The main thing is that you are a diver who dives safely and motivates other people to dive.

Jack Lavanchy

Jack W Lavanchy, Jürg Beeli, Henri Hemmerechts, Werner Thomaier, Aqua Lung Germany, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, TECHNISUB, JWL, PADI Europe, Matthias Breit, Dive Point Red, La Spirotechnique, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, The Silent World,
Image courtesy of PADI

Jack Lavanchy passionately believed in conserving and protecting the underwater environment. To this end in 1996 he launched Project AWARE (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education) Foundation in Europe. Project AWARE encouraged diver participation, ie beach clean ups, and grew to become one of Europe’s most active and influential marine environmental organisations.

The more divers there are, the more they can convince the non-divers and authorities how important it is to preserve and protect the underwater realm.

Jack Lavanchy

Under Lavanchy's leadership PADI experienced double-digit growth, growing into Europe's largest diver training organisation.

JWL Aqualung AG also enjoyed commercial success, and in 1995 Beeli and Lavanchy sold their shares in the company to Aqualung International.

Over the years I have tried to bring the diving equipment manufacturers and the training agencies closer together. It is only through close collaboration that we can make snorkelling and scuba diving grow further, so that more people can admire and enjoy this fascinating underwater world.

Jack Lavanchy

During his long career Jack Lavanchy was a valuable member of many boards which influenced the European diving industry. His contributions were recognised as he received numerous honors and titles, including:

  • Historical Diving Society Advisory Board
  • International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
  • European Underwater Federation Honorary Vice President

His contributions will be missed, but Jack himself will be missed the most.


Writing this, I found myself mentally transported back to last year's Boot Show. I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Tauchen Awards, to see Werner Thomaier, General Manager of Aqua Lung Germany announce that Jack Lavanchy was to receive the 2015 Tauchen Honorary Award.

This presentation recognised his lifetime achievements and his many years of dedication, service and commitment to the sport of diving. The level of applause in the room indicated the agreement and support by the audience.

He made it possible for dive centre and shows like this (Boot) to get established. He built bridges. He was the nicest person in the diving industry.

Dick Lucas, NAUI Europe

He has been an example to all of us that it is possible to have every competitor work together at the table. He was the one with an open mind. We are going to miss this most.

Jan Oldenhuizing, personal friend of Jack

Jack Lavanchy was a captain in our industry. A legend. And a very sweet, nice person.

Henri Hemmerechts, Association of Dive Professionals

New Scuba Magazine Unveiled @ Boot.2016

Nicholas Barraqué, PlONGEZ!, Dusseldforf Boot Show 2016, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving magazinesA new scuba diving magazine has been unveiled at Dusseldorf's Boot.2016 Show.  

As the name suggests, 'PlONGEZ!' will be written in French.

Nicholas Barraqué, Director of Publications has confirmed that PlONGEZ! will hit newstands on a bi-monthly basis.

We wish this magazine every success!

Website: www.plongez.fr



Stephen Martin Case DROPPED!

Today, Monday 18th January 2016, the British Sub Aqua Club issued this statement.

"This morning lawyers for BSAC member Stephen Martin were advised that all charges have been dropped by the Maltese Authorities, following a visit to the Island’s Attorney General by the British Sub-Aqua Club, last week. It brings to an end a horrific nightmare for Stephen who could have faced up to ten years in prison if he had been found guilty in Malta.

Stephen Martin, BSAC, British Sub Aqua Club, diving in Gozo, diving deaths, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company
Scuba diver Stephen Martin

Stephen was charged last July with two counts of involuntary homicide, following the deaths in Gozo in June 2014 of Larissa Hooley and Nigel Haines, despite the fact a UK inquest had concluded in February 2015 that they died due to a diving accident.

Speaking of his relief today Stephen said: “I am overwhelmed. This has been an utter nightmare for me, and I am just so relieved it is over. I feel I can finally start grieving for Larissa and Nigel, I just can’t keep back the tears. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the last 12 months – I have been overwhelmed by the support of divers in the UK and worldwide and for all the efforts that have been made on my behalf to get these charges overturned. BSAC have also been really been fantastic. It’s a great example of how they look after their members, and I can’t thank them enough.”

BSAC chief executive Mary Tetley said: “First of all I would like to extend our sympathies from all at the British Sub-Aqua Club to the families of Larissa Hooley and Nigel Haines.

“This was a tragic accident and Stephen is among the many who are still grieving their loss.

I would like to thank the Malta Tourism Authority for facilitating the crucial meeting with the Attorney General. The decision today brings to an end the horrendous ordeal which Stephen has suffered since he was charged, and we are both delighted and relieved for him.”

Stephen’s solicitor in the UK, Edward Elwyn Jones of Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors described the charge as “bizarre” because it was not at all clear how the Maltese authorities proposed to prove that Stephen had actually caused the deaths of Larissa and Nigel.

He said: “We received notification from the UK Crown Prosecution Service this morning that the European Arrest Warrant for Stephen Martin had been withdrawn. I have also received notification from the Attorney General in Malta that the intended prosecution will no longer be proceeded with. This brings to an end a long and painful nightmare for Stephen. It is rare for an extradition request to be withdrawn. Often when they are it is as a result of lobbying outside the courtroom and BSAC are to be commended for the work they have done to highlight Stephen’s plight at the highest level.”

Stephen’s MP Sir Peter Bottomley who has also been supporting his case, said: “I’m grateful to the Maltese Attorney General for meeting with BSAC and reviewing the case and to Stephen’s lawyer Ed Jones. I also pay tribute to the British Sub-Aqua club and Stephen’s lawyer Ed Jones for their efforts in this case.”

Update on Stephen Martin Case

The British Sub Aqua Club issued this statement at 3pm today, Tuesday 12th January 2016.

"This morning (Tuesday 12th January) BSAC’s Chairman, Chief Executive and National Diving Officer met with the Attorney General of Malta to discuss the Stephen Martin case.


Stephen Martin, British Sub Aqua Club, BSAC, involuntary homicide, diving death, scuba diving death, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, diving in Malta, scuba diving in Gozo

BSAC member Stephen Martin has been charged with two counts of involuntary homicide following a diving incident in Gozo in 2014, in which two people tragically died.

Following BSAC’s last meeting in Malta in November regarding Stephen’s case, we have continued to work with the Malta Tourism Authority to secure a meeting with the Maltese Attorney General.

It was a very frank, open and direct meeting lasting 1 hour 40 minutes in which we questioned the strength of the case against Stephen Martin. We very firmly explained our dismay at this case ever being brought against Stephen. We believe there is a complete lack of evidence to support it and have questioned all aspects of this case.

While the Attorney General listened to our representations and views, he explained procedurally he is unable to withdraw the case at this time.

We also met with Stephen’s legal representative in Malta and continue to work with both him and Stephen’s legal representative in the UK as well as the Malta Tourism Authority to maintain pressure and to explore all possible opportunities.

Stephen has been fully updated as to what has taken place. There will be a further hearing in Malta on the 25 January at which we hope the Maltese authorities will reconsider their position and drop the case."

Blue Planet Aquarium Is Recruiting

Blue Planet Aquarium, Dive Officer job, scuba diving jobs, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, TUMC, scuba diving PRAre you an organised, proactive dive professional with a passion for your sport? An exciting opportunity has arisen for a dedicated dive pro to join the Cheshire based Zoological Team.

The future Dive Officer needs to demonstrate awareness of current health and safety dive legislation. The ability to use their initiative and self-motivate is also expected.

Further information on this vacancy can be found

Closing Date: Friday 22nd January 2016