Owner of Scuba Tech Philippines, Andy is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC, and SSI-qualified independent technical diving instructor who is best known for his many articles on sidemount and wreck diving and his prolific contributions to sidemount groups and forums. This passionate educator has a unique ability to break down the complexities of sidemount diving and deliver it in a way that makes it easy to understand and implement.
What is sidemount to you?
With its own pros and cons relative to other equipment solutions, sidemount is just another configuration. What I value from it is primarily that it enables access to confined overhead areas that would otherwise be impenetrable to back mount. That said, I also feel that sidemount is sublimely enjoyable to dive; it remains stable in any physical orientation, doesn’t impede spine flexibility and becomes a part of the diver without any inertia effect.
What can be improved in sidemount in general?
I feel that sidemount is evolving through a process of best-practice refinement; similar to how back mount open-circuit diving was developed to its current, near universal, state. Great minds think alike; and that can be seen in how near-identical configuration, protocols and procedural solutions have arisen to address the problems that sidemount posed. I believe sidemount is currently at a stage where those best practices simply need to become more standardized across the sidemount community. Perhaps the biggest hurdle being overcome is the fundamental differences in approach to steel and aluminum cylinder sidemount diving: Floridian versus Mexican styles of sidemount I think that the latest design of sidemount BCDs, typified by the XDeep Stealth, have taken the first steps to reconciling those fundamental differences.
Was there an epiphany moment for you with sidemount?
If I had to indicate a single instance of dramatic awakening in my sidemount journey, it’d have to be my first in-water impression. Even while my configuration was very sub-optimal at the outset, using homemade equipment from converted wings, it was immediately apparent that sidemount had opened up a multitude of new exploration possibilities at sites I’d already well explored. Moving forwards from that first impression, it’s been a year-by-year process of incrementally increasing my understanding and expertise. There’s been many ‘lightbulb’ moments along that path; as experimentation and practice has led to a more fundamentally principled awareness of how and why the system works most effectively.
Why are most people in trouble with their basic gear setup?
Sidemount configuration can be very nuanced in terms of the principles that need to be applied. That requires a level of attention-to-detail that either takes a long time to learn, or demands a great deal of instructional expertise at the outset. The mindset for configuration has to be quite technical in nature; and that mindset isn’t always developed amongst recreational divers and instructors. That said, I’m positive from seeing an increasing level of refinement in sidemount instruction over the last decade. There’s vastly more information available nowadays, and that availability is having a good effect in setting higher standards and expectations.
What’s your Golden rule for sidemount rigging?
There’s a handful of different core principles that need to be understood for optimized sidemount configuration. If I had to clarify one ‘golden rule’, it’d be that sidemount configuration has to be fundamentally driven by those principles. Developing sound knowledge of those principles at the outset saves months or years of unsatisfactory diving experience and avoids an endless cycle of tweaking, adapting and adjusting one’s kit. With the right knowledge in place, a diver should be near-optimal the first time they get into the water in sidemount.
Return to: The Who’s Who of Sidemount
InDEPTH: The Evolution of Sidemount System Design: Two Distinct Paths Shaped by Florida and Mexico By Andy Davis
Scuba Tech Philippines: Andy Davis Sidemount Technical Wreck Diving Blog
InDEPTH’s Guide To U/W TikTok
Compiled by by Grace Winfree. Lead image by Georgina Brown.
|Alex Kydd||alexkyddphoto||Nature and travel photographer.|
|aggielandscuba||aggieland scuba||Your local dive shop, no matter where you live.|
|Amber Bourke||amberofthesea||Deepest female freediver in Australia.|
|Anesti Vega||anestivega||Scuba instructor, ocean scientist, aquanaut, and explorer.|
|Argentina Diving||argentinadiving||Recreational and technical dive center based in Argentina.|
|Azul Unlimited||azul.unlimited||Scuba diver/van life.|
|Bethy SCUBA||navigating_bethy||Scuba instructor for kids.|
|Blue Alchemy Freediving||bluealchemyfreediving||Competitive Freediver|
|Brandee Anthony||brandee_anthony||Diver, mermaid, photographer, and traveler.|
|Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire||buddydiveresort||Dive into Bonaire.|
|Cenote Girl||cenote_girl||Technical diving instructor based in Mexico.|
|Chris||hartdiversintl||Diver with a passion for our oceans, wildlife, and exploration.|
|Deep Dive Dubai||deepdivedubai||Deepest swimming pool in the world.|
|Devina Wijaya||scuba.dev||GUE diver engaging with the community through humor, memes, and a touch of tech.|
|Dive Addicts||diveaddicts||Sharing love for the underwater world & scuba diving w/ training, travel & gear.|
|Dive Gurus||thedivegurus||PADI dive center based in Mexico.|
|Dive Love Travel||divelovetravel||Scuba diving instructors and travelers.|
|Divers Alert Network||diversalertnetwork||World’s leading dive safety association.|
|dive_into.life||dive_into.life||Mind-blowing diving experiences.|
|Dive_Zone_Whitianga||dive_zone_whitianga||Scuba diving and free diving.|
|Divesoft||divesoft||High-tech products designed specifically for top technical and cave divers.|
|Gabby Abouhassan||gabriella613_||Scuba instructor, marine conservationist, and traveler.|
|Girls that Scuba||girlsthatscuba||World’s largest scuba diving community for women.|
|Girls That CCR||girlthatccr||Empowering girls into CCR.|
|Halcyon Dive Systems||halcyondivesystems||Scuba diving equipment manufacturer for recreational and technical divers.|
|Hannah | Professional Explorer||simplyhannah1||Mermaid.|
|ImmersionFD||immersionfd||Freediver to 297 feet who teaches people to freedive deeper, stay longer, and be safer.|
|InDEPTH Magazine||indepth.magazine||Magazine for technical and mission-oriented diving.|
|Italiansharkman||italiansharkman||Freediver and shark lover.|
|Jacinta | Ocean Videography||jacintashackleton_||Ocean photographer/videographer and marine biologist.|
|JillHeinerth||jillheinerth||Cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker.|
|Jordsblueworld||jordsblueworld||Ocean advocate, nature explorer, and founder of “The Thresher Project.”|
|Kenny Dyal||kenny_dyal||Host of “The Scuba Diving Podcast.”|
|Mads Ocean||mads_ocean||Marine biologist and wildlife photographer.|
|Marcelin Nebenhaus||divethecave||Cave diving instructor and guide based in Mexico.|
|Modern Diver Channel||moderndiver||Educating modern divers and showcasing shipwrecks.|
|Nancy Shark Diver||nancydietrich1313||Shark lover.|
|Nick Fazah||cpt.nickfazah||Capt. Nick here, full time Scuba/Freediving instructor, boat Cpt & water mammal|
|Nicole Alarid||nicalarid||Cave diver and underwater/nature photographer.|
|Olivia | Fully Submerged||fullysubmerged||Scuba comedy by a PADI Staff Instructor/Dive Safety Officer.|
|PADI||padi||Training agency for recreational divers.|
|Reel Diving||reeldiving||Scuba diving equipment distributor based in Northern Europe.|
|rsv507||rsv||Beautiful girls underwater.|
|SANTI DIVING||santidiving_official||Scuba diving equipment manufacturer of drysuits, undersuits, and heating systems.|
|Scuba Diver Joe||scubadiverjoe||Informative/educational PADI “Ambassadiver” based in the UK.|
|scuba diving||scubaproo||Scuba diving and underwater photography.|
|Scuba Diving Intl||sdidivers||Training agency for recreational divers.|
|Scuba Diving Magazine||scubadivingmag||Magazine for scuba diving.|
|SCUBAPRO||scubapro.official||Scuba diving equipment manufacturer.|
|Tabitha||tabithalipkin||Dive Master, former Miss Scuba International, and comedian.|
|taylor||taylor_thesailor||Scuba instructor and environmentalist.|
|Technical Diving International||tdidiving||Training agency for technical divers.|
|thedivememe||thedivememe||Scuba diving memes from a CMAS diver.|
|Tom | Scuba Diving & Ocean||narkedtom||Inspiring people to love the ocean with humor.|
|Tom Park Photography||underwaterdude||Professional underwater filmmaker and PADI ambassador.|
|William Drumm||william.drumm||Underwater wildlife photographer/videographer.|
|Woody Alpern||woodydivetalk||Host of Dive Talk.|
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