• September 27, 2022, 02:53:44 AM

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Survivor for Divers ?  (Read 5909 times)

Offline JohnnyCastaway

  • Administrator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3379
Survivor for Divers ?
« on: August 06, 2012, 10:14:03 AM »
'Survivor'-like reality show in PBC puts divers to the test,0,2937777.story
(there is a trailer at the link)

Think "Survivor," but with underwater mazes, blackout masks and imaginary sea critters in need of rescue all against the watery backdrop of Palm Beach County's celebrated scuba dive sites.

Welcome to "Ultimate Diver Challenge: Palm Beach County," a reality TV show that puts expert divers from around the country to the test, fighting elimination by mastering complex dives loaded with multiple tasks and safety drills, all in our backyard.

Two weeks of filming the faceoff among 20 contestants in the waters off Riviera Beach wrapped up on Tuesday, and the show is expected to air in January, once producers shop it to various networks.

"Ever seen [a reality show] underwater? That's easy to answer. No," said David Waters, whose Melbourne production company,, helped film the program. "Placing the elements of a reality show from drama to athleticism to competition in the new venue of underwater adds a layer of complexity and intrigue. The show stands out because of that."

Escape for Less. We've got some amazing cruise deals and they're just a click away

It's the show's first year filming outside Cozumel, Mexico. Last year, after airing only online at for four seasons, the reality show got picked up by its first national TV cable network, running for 13 weeks and again in reruns on Versus, now the NBC Sports Network. It drew 1.7 million viewers.

Though producers paid the air time to get the show on Versus, they hope a new venue, a growing online audience and the buzz over last year's show will persuade another network to sponsor it, much like CBS did in giving"Survivor" its first shot.

When it airs, South Florida viewers will see one familiar face: U.S. Rep. Allen West, an avid diver, makes an appearance in one episode, banging on contestants' hotel room doors at 2 a.m. and ordering them to the beach for a surprise dive.

Working first in two-person teams, then graduating to individual challenges after half the field was eliminated, contestants were put through challenges testing their buoyancy, navigation and search-and-rescue skills. In one challenge, they had to negotiate a two-story, underwater maze at night, in blackout masks to block out any hint of light.

"That was challenging," said contestant Ed Finck, a Virginia dive instructor. "Some people didn't make it out."

In another, teams had to take turns rescuing Wally the Balloon, a make-believe sea critter entangled in rope. They had to bring him to the surface without popping him.

"I would say it takes all the skills you have in diving, and requires you to perform them consistently and efficiently," said Erin Porter, 29, a Pompano Beach dive instructor, one of several contestants from South Florida. "It's a unique concept."

They're competing for a chance to win a seven-day stay at a luxury resort in Fiji, as well as cash prizes and gear. But they say it's the thrill of the challenge, and a bid for bragging rights in a close-knit dive world, that drew them to join the show for its sixth official season.

A real coup

For Palm Beach County, landing the production was a coup and the perfect chance to show off the area's clear waters and abundant marine life to a new audience of divers.

"We do just about every other sport imaginable golf, tennis, rugby, wheelchair rugby you name it, we have a tournament for it. But one sport we don't do is underwater [diving]," said Roger Amidon, executive director of the county Tourist Development Council. "We're extremely excited to showcase Palm Beach County as a diving destination."

So excited that the TDC and the county agencies funded by bed taxes together pledge $130,000 a year for three years on the show's promise to stay six years and promote the county along the way.

That won't be hard, said Finck, who returned to defend his title after winning last year's challenge.

"[Palm Beach County] is an area I've never been to, and I'm definitely coming back, win or lose, to do more diving," said Finck, who's been putting on scuba gear for 25 years and has more than 5,000 dives under his belt including the plunge he took for his own wedding ceremony. "We're all going home and becoming spokesmen for Palm Beach County."

The challenge is the brainchild of Kansas City, Mo., nurse Pam Bertrand, who decided to start a reality show after turning off the TV in disgust at the back-stabbing theatrics that typically win the grand prize on the top-rated "Survivor." An avid diver and mother of four, Bertrand told her husband, "We need something for divers," something that captured the camaraderie of the diver world and put skill above cutthroat schemes.

"As a scuba industry, we stress the importance of education, training and safety, but we never pat people on the back for what they do," Bertrand said.

She's spent a half-million dollars of her own money investing in the production so far, looking for sponsors and her big "Survivor"-like break. Realizing she wouldn't find it in Mexico, Bertrand started looking for a new home after last season wrapped up.

As fate would have it, Amidon was on the hunt, too for a way to market Palm Beach County as a dive destination. He walked into a West Palm Beach dive shop for ideas and met Tammi Latham, whose husband had been a contestant in last season's challenge. She told him about the show, and Amidon approached Bertrand about coming to Florida.

"The Florida Keys is what we divers know about as a diving destination in Florida," Bertrand said. "We don't know about Palm Beach County. I was absolutely amazed that you could fly into Palm Beach County and be diving within 10 minutes.

"The secret's out. Palm Beach County is the No. 1 Florida dive destination. It will be when we're done."

The new venue has already done wonders for traffic to the show's website. In February, when Bertrand announced the show was coming to Palm Beach County, the hits more than doubled from about 40,000 to 90,000 by March, Amidon said. In July, the site drew 275,000 hits.

Contestants and production crew alike almost all of them divers and instructors say the show has wide appeal, both to the dive community and to a national viewing audience, especially the many who enjoy water sports.

"Right now, reality TV is such a huge, huge thing. What better way to get it out there?" said Tina Nelson, a production assistant and dive instructor from Portland, Ore. "We show people it's not all Shark Week. You don't need to be a Navy SEAL, you don't have to be some big, buff dude to dive."

Copyright 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Offline Tuss

  • Max Member
  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 954
Re: Survivor for Divers ?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 07:11:36 AM »
I'm not sure this is a safe idea.  Having people push their limits underwater is a setup for disaster.  I know these are experienced divers, but will they recognize their own limits if they start to feel unwell or will the be so competative that they will ignore the symptoms and push themselves into decompression illness or other problems.

I'd still watch it though.

Offline Pacific State 808

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 968
Re: Survivor for Divers ?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 08:45:12 AM »
I had my doubts as well for the same reasons.

The thing I hate about diving is that it seems to carry this ridiculous stigma of bravado, someone has got to be down the deepest and for the longest and are usually dressed up like a christmas tree, loads of needless equipment kit dangling from their BCD. I am sure the tests would not be at any significant depth and there will also be rescue divers in the water, but there is always some idiot somewhere who will copy something seen on TV to showboat to friends.

The last stage of the Dive Master course you use to complete stress testing scenarios which were quite useful, but these were always conducted under test conditions. I am sure we would all react differently when faced with real issues.