Cayman’s Legends and Lions Weeklong Scuba Celebration Launched with a Resounding Start

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The birthplace of recreational diving in the Caribbean inaugurates an annual celebration of what makes the Cayman Islands special

Tanks, tuxedos and tasty lionfish were all hits at Cayman’s first annual Legends and Lions scuba celebration, which rolled out October 4 – 11, 2014 with great success thanks to teamwork, a good turnout and perfect weather. The celebration showcased Cayman’s superb diving, honored dive legends inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, fought invasive Lionfish and then served them up at a celebratory street party on the waterfront.

“Legends and Lions was a successful event for its first time,” says Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall, one of the participating dive operators. “ We hope to make it a yearly celebration that highlights the fantastic scuba diving of the Cayman Islands and the reasons we are one of the world’s leading dive destinations.”

“It went really well, I’m very pleased,” agreed Keith Sahm, General Manager for Sunset House, also one of the event dive operators. “It pulled together very nicely.”

Dive industry leaders teamed up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to combine several existing scuba promotions during this traditionally slow time of year to take advantage of off-season rates. The dive deals offered by Red Sail Sports, Sunset House and Divetech attracted new divers to Cayman from as far away as Germany, and drew repeat divers from closer markets in the US back to a destination they know well and visit often.

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Some visitors started the week of diving aboard a Red Sail Sports dive boat with scuba pioneers Bill Acker, Dan Orr and Leslie Leaney. The three hall of famers spoke to the group about the history of diving and their experiences in the sport. The legends and divers then hit the water together to dive Cayman’s spectacular North Wall where they explored dive sites Creole Cliff and Pinnacle Reef. It was an experience Carolyn Larrivee and her husband George from Utah won’t forget.

“I loved it! It was great to be with people who love what they do and who want to share that passion with us,” she said. “I love the camaraderie – it reassures me as a diver who loves the sport.”

“They shared this wonderful dive experience with us,” said Dan Orr, who thoroughly enjoyed the meet and greet on board. “Diving is done as a community – we are a community.”

“This is the essence of diving, which is a non-competitive sport,” agreed Leslie Leaney, a dive historian. “It’s about sharing this fun activity as a community.”

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Also attending the festival were top performers from dive shops and booking agents participating in Cayman’s Tanks A Lot Rewards Program, courtesy of the Department of Tourism and Cayman’s dive industry.  A couple of the FAM attendees – Paula and Dean of The Dive Academy in Ontario – celebrated by getting engaged and then picking out a ring. The weeklong fun continued with topside events that Lionfish culling certifications and culling dives to remove the predators from Cayman’s reefs. The day’s catch was then cooked up and served during a street party sponsored by Aqua Lung.

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“I’ve never had Lionfish before and it’s tasty!” said a surprised and pleased Rich Peterson, visiting the island from Jacksonville, Florida.  The meal included Caribbean staples rice and peas, plantain and “cho cho” a tropical fruit.

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Legends and Lions also hosted a photo contest during the week that drew local, as well as visiting underwater photographers. The winners received prizes awarded by Scubapro, Guy Harvey and the Cathy Church Underwater Photo Centre.  Coordinator Keith Sahm says the images submitted for the event were astounding and the response to the collections has been great. Categories included; Unusual, Macro, and Turtles, Stingrays and Fish. Winners included local divers Charlie Reaney, Brittany Slade, Amanda Nicholls, Chase Darnell, Courtney Platt and Ellen Cuylaerts.

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“The response that we have received from our social medial site showing off the winners has been absolutely fabulous and it give us great pleasure showing off these talented photographers work,” he said.  “Next year, we will get started much earlier, now that we have a new format in place. We’ll have more prizes, more categories, the goal is to get more entries.”

The scuba week celebration was capped off with a formal, black tie International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Dinner hosted by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. These year’s inductees were Alese and Mort Pechter, Bill Acker, Chuck Nicklin, Dan Orr and Neal Watson.  Rod McDowall of Red Sail Sports was also honored for his contributions to Cayman’s dive industry through the years.

“The induction into the local Cayman Islands Scuba Hall of Fame is appreciated,” said McDowall. “It’s always nice to get recognition for just doing your job in a diving paradise.”

The dive legends inducted to the hall of fame had this to say:

Alese Pechter: “What a fantastic weekend we had! Thank you so much for making absolutely everything so perfect. Grand Cayman has always held a special place in our hearts and this weekend just solidified that feeling even more.”

Neal Watson: “Thanks a million for the hospitality extended to my friends, family and the ‘Dive God’.”

Dan Orr: “Keith, it was a wonderful week thanks largely to you and Karin. Having all of our family stay at Sunset House was the best decision – our family loved every bit of it.  The rooms, the staff, the food and the diving were all first rate.  We sincerely thank you and Karin for everything! “

Bill Acker: “Thank you so very much, for your help, hospitality and friendship during the past week in the Cayman Islands.  My entire family as well as our friends from Germany had a wonderful time at Sunset House.”

Chuck Nicklin: “Thanks to the Cayman Department of Tourism and to the hospitality of Karin and Keith Sahm of the Sunset House Dive Resort, Leslie Leaney, our eloquent MC and Co-founder of the Historical Diving Society, and to the many friends who attended. Congratulations to all inductees! It was a great event!”

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Everyone involved in Legends and Lions is anxious to get started on plans for 2015 since this first event was so successful – there are new ideas to discuss for next year.

“We want to put this event on every divers calendar – fantastic diving, great dive deals, diving with industry celebrities and a street party – the perfect Cayman Islands dive vacation!” said Rod McDowall.

About Us

The Cayman Bottom Times is news collaboration by five leading dive operators to promote the superb diving of the Cayman Islands, and keep the diving public informed of important developments and events. Divetech, Ocean Frontiers, Red Sail Sports and Sunset House in Grand Cayman, and the Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman, all members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, represent more than 100 years of solid experience in a destination that is recognized as the birthplace of recreational diving. With a unique combination of deep wall and shallow reef diving, several wrecks, and world-famous Stingray City, the Cayman Islands has cemented its place as the top diving destination in the Caribbean.

Offering diverse and wide-ranging dive programs on both Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, the members of this dive group represent the best Cayman has to offer; Divetech (www.divetech.com), Ocean Frontiers (www.oceanfrontiers.com), Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman (www.redsailcayman.com), Sunset House (www.sunsethouse.com) and the Southern Cross Club (www.southerncrossclub.com).

Red Sail Sports offers an Unbeatable Dive Deal during Cayman’s “Legends and Lions” Celebration October 4 – 11

Taking advantage of off-season rates to offer travel deals, Cayman’s dive industry highlights things that make it a top dive destination: incredible diving, outstanding customer service and a conservation-minded community that honors dive legends 

A host of travel option are available for the “Legends and Lions,” celebration on Grand Cayman October 4 – 11, 2014, but discerning divers seeking an exceptional travel deal should take advantage of Red Sail Sports’ dive package with accommodations at the luxurious Westin Resort on Seven Mile Beach. It starts at an incredible US $975 per person (based on double occupancy) for a 7-night stay and it includes a daily 2-tank dive, plus the common elements being offered as part of the celebration.

The weeklong event brings together several existing scuba promotions during this slow time of year to take advantage of off-season rates. All “Legends and Lions” packages include; a daily 2-tank dive, a dive on the USS Kittiwake wreck, a Lionfish certification with a 1-tank Lionfish hunt dive, a street dance and tickets to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, where guests can minge with the “legends” of diving. Cayman is host to the ISDHF and some of the biggest names in the dive industry will be honored: Alese and Mort Pechter, Bill Acker, Chuck Nicklin, Dan Orr and Neal Watson.

The “Lions” in the event name refers to Cayman’s continuing battle against invasive Lionfish, which threaten reefs, not only in the Cayman Islands, but also all across the Caribbean. Red Sail Sports and other participating operators plan all-out assault on the invasive Lionfish on Thursday, October 9 with a Lionfish culling certification followed by a 1-tank dive to remove the predators from local reefs. The day’s catch will be cooked up and enjoyed during a street party on the waterfront in George Town.

The Red Sail Sports and Westin Resort partnership gives dive travelers another reason to celebrate – enjoying the very best Cayman has to offer at bargain prices not available the rest of the year. The Westin Resort, with its elegant tropical atmosphere, is situated on the soft, white sands of Seven Mile Beach, ranked by US News Traveler as the #1 beach in the world. It features comfortable rooms, world-class restaurants, spa facilities and all the amenities needed to pamper guests. Red Sail Sports, known for excellent customer service and first-rate facilities, operates a watersports shop on the beach at the Westin. Guests enjoy convenient and easy boarding because Red Sail Sports’ customized, spacious dive boats pull up right up on the beach.

Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall:  “Lifestyle is a choice travelers make when booking their vacation, and our package gives them the opportunity to make the most of their time on the island. They can enjoy all the things that make Cayman special: warm clear water, incredible dive sites, great customer service, world-class accommodations and restaurants, and a stunning beach. When they are done diving for the day, guests may opt to enjoy the beach by relaxing seaside, in the pool or having fun with our watersports toys – it’s all here, and at fantastic rates they won’t get at any other time of the year.”

Red Sail Sports “Legends and Lions” Dive Package

October 4-11, 2014
$975 per person
Based on double occupancy

Package includes:

  • 7 Nights at the Westin (island view room)
  • 6 two-tank dives
  • Dinner Ticket for International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
  • Sunset Sail
  • Tickets for the Lionfish Dinner & Street Party
  • 20% discount on Red Sail Sports watersports

To book e-mail: info@redsailcayman.com, call: 1-877-506-6368 or visit our website: www.redsailcayman.com/legends.

About Red Sail Sports

Red Sail Sports, a member of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is a leading resort based dive and watersports operator. Since 1987 it has been setting the standard on Grand Cayman by providing the highest level of guest services. On Seven Mile Beach Red Sail Sports operates locations at the Westin Resort, the Marriott Resort, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman. At remote East End the company has a watersports shop at Morritt’s Tortuga Club, also offering dive and catamaran services to The Reef Resort. On North Side Red Sail Sports offers watersports activities at the Rum Point Club.  The company offers several dive packages through its affiliation with island hoteliers.

Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman Launches New Dive-Specific Website

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Dec 16, 2014) Red Sail Sports, Grand Cayman’s leading resort watersports operator, is gearing up for 2015 with the launch of a new dive-focused website www.diveredsailcayman.com.  The website, a one-stop online shopping location for diving customers, offers quick and easy access to all Red Sail Sports dive information, showcasing the company’s new competitive dive rates and dive packages.  Red Sail Sports’ Summer Spectacular package includes 5 two-tanks for just US $465, a savings of 30% from last summer’s rates.

“Our goal is to inspire visitors to book some of the great dive specials and packages Red Sail Sports is offering in 2015,” said Operations Manager Rod McDowall. “Rates have been lowered considerably for volume diving and we hope the site will show Red Sail Sports as the best operator and option when visiting Grand Cayman.”

The dive website is also part of the company’s ongoing efforts to keep improving its stellar customer service. Red Sail Sports has been offering services on Grand Cayman for 27 years and it operates facilities at resorts along the island’s famous Seven Mile Beach, Rum Point and East End. Customers access all the information they need when planning their dive vacation, including a complete dive boat schedule and list of Red Sail Sports’ training courses, and easily book their adventures online.

The website is designed to answer questions divers might have; certification cards, water conditions, the best time of year to dive the Cayman Islands, dive refreshers, making reservations, diver ratios, what’s needed on the boat, medical facilities on boat and on the island, and more. Visitors can browse through descriptions and colorful photos of the dive sites and check out the maps. Dive instructors Vicki Jones and Chris Kirrage spent six months writing the content for the dive site and they will keep it updated with the latest from Red Sail Sports and the Cayman dive scene.

“Divers like to research and know a lot of information before they arrive; what they might see on the dive, which staff will take them diving, what the boats are like, what equipment they will use,” said Vicki Jones.  “We are very much involved in the diving ourselves here in Grand Cayman, so this allows us to write the content from what we feel is a diver/instructor’s point of view.”

As dive instructors Jones and Kirrage also want to make the process of signing up for PADI eLearning courses much simpler for their students. “Within 2 clicks they can be directed to the PADI sign up page for any course that we offer,” said Kirrage.

Red Sail Sports’ training program includes PADI specialties such as Wreck Diver, Nitrox Diver, Deep Diver, Search and Recovery and Scuba Tune Up. Customers can also sign up for Nitrox diving, with its own nitrox compressor, Red Sail Sports is making diving with nitrox more accessible for customers.

Also new in 2015, Red Sail Sports is making Go Pro action video cameras available for rent at all locations. Customers can rent them for a full day or half day with accessories to suit their activity and capture their Cayman vacation in high quality video. The company has an Action Camera Specialty Course in the works.

“The aim of the dive-specific website is to give visitors browsing online a little bit of a dive experience with our Red Sail Sports team,” said Rod McDowall. “It is such a fun time diving in Cayman – spectacular warm, clear water diving, and entertaining, friendly and professional staff making our guests comfortable on big, spacious and well-equipped boats.  We like to spoil our customers and hopefully a bit of that fun and color will come out to the reader on the new site.”

To visit the new Red Sail Sports dive website go to www.diveredsailcayman.com.

About Red Sail Sports
Red Sail Sports, a member of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association is a leading resort based dive and watersports operator. Since 1987 it has been setting the standard on Grand Cayman by providing the highest level of guest services. On Seven Mile Beach Red Sail Sports operates locations at the Westin Resort, the Marriott Resort, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman. At remote East End the company has a watersports shop at Morritt’s Tortuga Club, also offering dive and catamaran services to The Reef Resort. On North Side Red Sail Sports offers watersports activities at the Rum Point Club.  The company offers several dive packages through its affiliation with island hoteliers.