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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

With the start of a new year and the promise of an international airport for Lombok in 2010, in this issue we publish the first of our in-depth reports on the progress of BIL, the Lombok International Airport. Over the following weeks we will bring our readers the latest updates on the development of the airport, the challenges faced by contractors and the issues raised within the local community. Read the first of these reports on page 10.

Also making big news internationally is the World Record set by local expatriate diver, William Goodman on Gili Trawangan. Will set a World Record for the longest time spent underwater on 9 January, when he spent more than two days submerged in the ocean off Gili T. See “Gili News” on page 61 for more details on this world-class feat.
It’s a great start to what promises to be a great year for Lombok, as world attention turns to this beautiful little island we call home.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 42 or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you’ll be enchanted!

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With the start of the new year, one of the most eagerly anticipated events for 2010 in Lombok is the opening of the new Lombok International Airport.

Construction started on the airport in 2008, but the project has been dogged by delays and setbacks from the beginning. Originally planned to be completed by mid 2009 and fully operational in early 2010, the airport is still in the construction stage and it seems that a mid-2010 completion date is a more realistic target.

The Lombok Guide visited the site of the Lombok International Airport on Thursday, 14 January 2010 for one of our regular updates on the progress of this crucial stage in Lombok’s development.

The new main road to the airport is wide and smooth; transforming the access from what was once a rutted track through the villages. From the road, the arched entrance is taking shape and the curved form of the new airport terminal dominates the landscape. To the right, the 46m control tower rises from the flat land around it. Certainly, there has been a lot of progress since our last visit in November 2009.

In the past two months, work has been pushed ahead on the terminal building, although it is still well behind schedule. In addition to the passenger terminal, work on the aprons, hangers, the control tower, and administration buildings are all still in the construction stage. In March last year, then-Vice President Yusef Kalla issued statements to the press that construction of the airport would be complete by October 2009. From our observations, an estimate of around June to August 2010 would be more accurate.

Once again, we interviewed Pak Ir Arief Budiman, who is the Project Manager for PT Slipi Raya Utama, the company responsible for building the terminal. Determined to push the building ahead when we spoke to him in November, Pak Arief said that he had hoped to have the terminal complete by the end of December, but it now looked like construction would finally be finished within the next two months.

The three storey building will total 20 000sqm when complete, with the main floor measuring 10 000sqm and open to both passengers and general public. The second floor, at 7 000sqm, will be accessible to travelling passengers only. The decks on the third floor comprise two separate areas linked by a sky bridge. One area will serve as a viewing station or lookout, while the other side will feature a sky café.

There are currently between 200 – 250 workers involved in the terminal building, with around 50% of the crew made up of local Lombok workers and the remainder from Java. Considering work on the terminal was started over a year ago, progress seems very slow. Pak Arief explained that there had been many problems and delays caused by using local labour. Although it is not an official regulation, there has been a tacit understanding from the beginning that the contractors must use labourers from the local area to avoid any problems.

Lombok International Airport or BIL (Bandara Internasional Lombok), as it is commonly called, is located on 538 hectares bordered by the villages of Penujak, Ketare and Batujai. Prior to construction of the airport, the entire area was made up of small kampungs and villages of people who made a subsistence living by farming. The area is, in fact, quite poor for farming and agricultural yields were never very high, meaning that the farmers eked out a living from low quality soils producing just enough crops to feed their families and sell at market. The low agricultural importance of this region to the Lombok economy was one of the reasons why this area was chosen as the site of the new airport.

However, the communities living in the area are traditionally farmers whose families have owned the land for generations and were reluctant to sell their land from the beginning. Many feel that they were forced into selling and at rates that were below the true market value of the land, and thus resent the construction of the airport on what they see as their traditional lands.

In a bid to assuage community resentment and to involve the local people in the project, the government requested that contractors use at least 50% local labour from the surrounding communities. The main problem with this is that, being mainly farmers with little or no education, most have no experience working in the construction industry. Further compounding the problems, most of the farmers have never held a job before and have no understanding of work ethics and normal business practices.

Lack of experience and skills has frustrated the construction workers brought in from Java to work on the project. They have struggled to meet deadlines, while also attempting to teach local workers new skills and to oversee each stage to ensure that the work meets the required construction standards.

Throughout the project there have been numerous delays as local workers refused to work overtime when construction fell behind schedule, but also refused to allow the contractors to bring in outside labour to complete the work. Work fell behind during the month of Ramadan, with many workers not turning up on site while they were fasting, and all refusing to work long shifts or overtime during the fasting month. The same problem occurred during the harvest, as the farmers returned to their fields to bring in the crops.

Contractors for each stage of the airport construction feel their hands are tied with this directive of using local labour and yet, as those of us who live here know, this is the way it must be done in Indonesia, particularly when working with communities who have little understanding of, or interest in, economical development of an island.
While this frustration is no doubt felt by the contractors, construction crews, the government and industry stakeholders in Lombok, this is a process of change that must take its course. What is important is that Lombok will have an international airport this year and the transformation of our island has begun.

(Next issue: flooding, delays and community socialisation. Part 2 of this report will be published in the next issue of The Lombok Guide)

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On a visit to Kuta last week we stopped in at Eudaimon – home of the horses in Kuta on the south coast. This beautiful villa is perched on the hill above breathtaking Kuta bay, with superb views across the hills and the coastline. The villa itself is lovely, designed for gracious comfort with luxurious furnishings. Opening off the front of the villa is a decked area with a private swimming pool that seems suspended over the edge of the hill, floating above the blue waters of Kuta Beach. There is also a comfortable guest house with two bedrooms for rent, with another large swimming pool and equally stunning views of the coast. With the majority of accommodation in Kuta catering to the surfing market, it’s surprising to find such luxury, surrounded by the unspoiled scenery of the south coast. www.villa-lombok.com

Also during our visit, we met the horses owned by Pak Pierre-Emmanuel, a charming French man who makes his home in Kuta. Kuta Horses provides unique horse riding tours of the area, taking visitors to off-road locations they would never be able to see by car or motorbike. After being so used to seeing the small Lombok ponies used to pull local horse-carts (cidomo), it is lovely to see full-sized western horses and in such superb physical condition. It is obvious Pierre-Emmanuel takes good care of his horses. For those interested in spending some time exploring the south by horseback, there are accommodation and riding packages available. If you are visiting the Kuta area, daily rides take place every afternoon from 4pm, although it is advisable to book beforehand. Rides start from Rp 350 000 per hour and are suitable for beginners and children, through to experienced riders. www.horseridingkuta.canalblog.com

Just another quick rave about Kayu Manis Café… because we can’t stay away from the place! Newly opened, between Senggigi Abadi Supermarket and the BNI Bank, Kayu Manis serves fresh and delicious food at low, low prices. The Daily Special the other night was superbly presented fillets of fresh fish, boneless and juicy, served on top of creamy mashed potatoes – not a lump in sight! – with fresh beans, bok choy, capsicum and fried shallots… a feast fit for a king at just Rp 40 000! The philosophy is simple: well presented and delicious meals, without the expensive markup. Overpriced Senggigi restaurants should take note!

Senggigi Hackers Amateur Golf Society (SHAGS) Monthly Cup will be held on Saturday, 30 January 2010. Shotgun start is at 9:00am at Sire Golf Course (Kosaido Country Club), at Sire Beach on the northwest coast. Anybody who requires transport can meet at Ebano R&R in Lendang Luar at 8:00am. This month’s Cup is sponsored by Pacific Beach Hotel & Villas and Big Boy Shop in Kuta, Bali (the AFL shop). Presentations will take place after the event at Pacific Beach Hotel. Non members and guests to Lombok are most welcome to join for a round of golf at discount rates. Contact Barry Lyon on 0813 3986 8939 or email lyonbarry@hotmail.com; or Mike Doran on 0813 3990 4033 or email Michael_Asti@yahoo.com for details.

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Bad weather and heavy seas forced the closure of the public ferry crossing between Lombok and Bali between Thursday, 14 and Friday, 15 January, 2010.

The public ferries were halted for a twelve hour period, until 11am on Friday, when waves in the Lombok Strait, the sea between the two islands, reached between 3 and 4 metres high.

Public ferries usually run between Padangbai Harbour on Bali and Lembar Harbour on Lombok, every hour. Around 200 transport trucks and local buses were stranded at the harbours when the ferry service was cancelled.
PT ASDP Lembar-Padangbai Branch Manager, Kaimuddin Maliling, made the decision to suspend services after the ferry KMP Perdana Nusantara departed Padangbai Harbour at 11pm on Thursday, 14 January but was forced to turn back after one and a half hours at sea, with the Skipper battling dangerous seas and making the decision that it would be too hazardous to continue the crossing. According to witnesses, trucks and vehicles in the hold were being smashed against each other when the ferry encountered violent waves.

Services were re-commenced on Friday, at 11am when the large waves subsided. A convoy of three ships then made the crossing to attempt to clear the backlog of vehicles waiting to be transported and to assist each other if necessary. The distance between Padangbai and Lembar Harbours is around 36 miles and public ferries usually make the crossing in around four hours, with another hour spent docking at each port on the respective islands.
Further east, the public ferry crossings between Sape (Bima) on Sumbawa and Labuhan Bajo on Flores, and further east to Waikilo on the island of Sumba, have been suspended for the time being.

The routes were closed on Wednesday, 14 January when local Harbour Masters and Skippers decided that the ocean conditions were too dangerous to continue operating. Total closure of these routes will continue, pending advice from the Department of Climatology and Meteorology.

Bad weather affects sea routes between the islands every year in Indonesia and travellers are advised to check with the Harbour Master in each area to see whether ferries are operating.

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Well known local artist, Karyana, is currently exhibiting his artwork at the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran Bay, Bali and earning praise from art critics.

An article published by Balidiscovery.com recently says: “Although he began his career as a self-taught realist, Karyana’s penchant for fleeting impressions has recently led him to a moody space that borders on the abstract. While some of his scenes, traditional fishing boats mirrored in the waters, are clearly inspired by the world that surrounds him on his native island of Lombok, others, which more resemble Rorschach tests, delve into mystery that provokes one’s imagination.

While careful study may reveal a hidden horse or dancer, these can easily fade back into the whole as if they never existed.

Such experiments between the world, so to speak, are wholly dependent on his mastery of the difficult media of aquarelle which, at its best, is luminous and seemingly spontaneous, and, at worst, muddy and confusing. Limiting his palette to subdued browns with an occasional tint of color is also courageous. His success in recapturing the feeling of old sepia photographs, too, is an admittance of his dalliance with historical nostalgia in the post-modern world.

While the art and artists of Lombok, the island east of Bali, have long been overshadowed by its western neighbor, it can in no way be considered of less importance. Interestingly, whereas most traditional Balinese art is renowned for its boisterous use of color, that of the Sasak people of Lombok is far earthier in tone and flavor. After a stint of working in Ubud, Bali for a year and three years as a commercial artist, Karyana has returned home to Lombok in both body and spirit.”

View the evocative creations of Karyana at the Four Seasons every day from 4 February to 1 March, 2010 or, when in Lombok, visit Karyana Gallery, the artist’s home gallery, on the main street of Senggigi (just down from Happy Café).

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It’s not often the Blonde Mafia gets out for lunch, so when they do they’re pretty discerning about the venue. After trying all the best restaurants in Senggigi, De Quake in the Pasar Seni (Art Markets) has become the venue of choice.

The first requirement in the search for the perfect lunch venue is that the place be stylish, have a laid back atmosphere, but good service. De Quake, with its Zen vibe and casual chic, is ideal for kicking back on the big comfortable lounges and looking out over the beach at Senggigi. The ever changing seascape provides a soothing backdrop at any time and the breeze from the ocean cools things down even on a hot Lombok day. Seating arrangements are well spaced apart, giving plenty of privacy for girls talk and laughter. The waiters are efficient, knowing when to advance and when to retreat, and most importantly, how to mix good cocktails.

Second on the wish list is a well-stocked bar with interesting drinks to keep the girls happy. De Quake is home to the best Strawberry Margaritas on Lombok – fresh ripe strawberries zoomed with tequila, triple sec and ice – delicious and refreshing at any time of the day and de rigeur for the start of any Blonde Mafia lunch. The Cosmopolitans and other cocktails are also good and there’s a fine range of spirits and liqueurs for when cocktails become too much. A small but decent selection of wines is available by the bottle and the glass.

Lastly, the food has to be interesting and tasty, but not too heavy, with lots of choices for ladies who like to graze. Here De Quake provides one of the best menus in town, both on the main menu and the wonderful little snack menu that’s available all day. Small servings of Asian inspired snacks such as Thai Beef Salad (Rp 30 000), Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Rp 30 000) and Seafood with Lemongrass (Rp 33 000) are full of flavour with taste-bud pleasing sauces and spices. The Tandoori Chicken Kebabs (Rp 29 000) are four tasty marinated chicken skewers served with tatziki dip, while the Cheese Wontons (Rp 29 000) are filled with melted cheese and accompanied by a sweet and sour dip. Other favourites include the Grilled Chicken Wraps (Rp 37 000), the Vietnamese style Spring Rolls (Rp 29 000) and the Fried Calamari, served with fried potatoes (Rp 37 000).

Spread out in the middle of the table, these tasty morsels are fun to share while sipping and talking, and would also make a lovely light lunch for those spending the day on the beach.

Even the ever present beach sellers add vibe to this beachfront restaurant and, rather than being an annoyance, add to the attraction of De Quake. Of course, you can choose to ignore them, but girls love to shop and the vendors walk by with an endless array of things to catch our eyes.

New copy designer sunglasses are picked over and modelled, before we decide which ones to buy. Silver rings and jewellery are spread out on the table – at one lunch, a custom-made silver belt was even commissioned! The latest movies are discussed and purchased from the DVD sellers, the pearls and sarongs are waved off with disinterest, all of us having ample stocks after living here for years.

Halima and the girls touting hair braiding and manicures and pedicures on the beachfront are always happy to see us and know we’ll change a slow afternoon’s trade for them. Where else in the world can you sit back after a perfect lunch with a group of friends and have your mani’s and pedi’s done, while relaxing on soft cushions with a cold drink in hand? Giggles and chatter, business talk and laughter, shopping, cocktails and yummy food, and then off home with pretty hands and feet. De Quake… the perfect venue for a day out for the girls!

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Friends and fans help The Beach Club celebrate 3
successful years as one of Senggigi’s most popular bars

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(Your personal building problems answered)

QUESTION: I have recently bought an inexpensive 2 bedroom studio villa in the Senggigi area and have met a very nice local lady half my age who I like to refer to as my “niece.” Our relationship was doing fine until one day I met another “niece.” The first niece found out about the second niece and left me. Sometime later, domestic rubbish and personal items of ladies clothing (some of which I recognised) started to appear over my garden wall. As I value my privacy, I decided to increase the height of my garden wall to nearly 3 metres. There were 2 main reasons for this. The first was that the local people from the kampung had a habit of playing guitars and singing endless morbid songs till all hours of the night, and the second reason was I had met another niece. The second niece found out about the third niece and she also left me, but not before she distributed various personal items over my new wall. This was met with derision from the locals who proceeded to use my garden as their personal rubbish dump. Items started to appear, including a broken toilet and half a bicycle. There was so much rubbish I could hardly get in or out.

One day, whilst attempting to clear up, I tripped and fell. As I did so, the bottle of beer in my hand was accidentally hurled over the wall and smashed against my neighbour’s fence. This caused outrage with the locals who now hurl abusive insults at me. Just the other day, it was so hot I decided to watch TV outdoors. Due to the incessant singing and guitar playing, I was forced to turn up the volume, which only led to the locals singing those morbid songs even louder. My life has gone from idyllic to a living hell. What shall I do? Can I increase the height of my wall? The locals have dubbed it “Alcatraz” as it is.  (Real name withheld for security reasons).Yours faithfully, George.

MR FIXER: There are no regulations here regarding the height of walls, garden or otherwise. Just ask Chris! In fact the only rule here is that there are no rules. Perhaps that’s part of the problem. I suggest you move to somewhere more private.

QUESTION: We live in a quiet, peaceful area of Senggigi. Just recently, a man has moved in and immediately began raising the height of his garden wall to a height I can only describe as similar to Alcatraz. Not only that, he has been seen demolishing his home in the middle of the night, leaving broken toilets and rubbish all over the place. He has secret visitors who leave more rubbish. One of them left half a bicycle. He is most abusive and has started throwing beer bottles over the wall when we are singing. Is this legal? Yours (and very angry), the local residents association.

MR FIXER: Unfortunately, there are no regulations regarding the height of garden walls.  Just ask Chris. Don’t worry though -- I think your new neighbour will be moving soon.

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Bali Custom’s officials are attempting to unravel the mystery of unidentified human bones seized over the past two weeks Balidiscovery.com reports that Bali police and custom’s officials from Ngurah Rai Airport are trying to identify the “owner” of two human skeletons seized at Bali airport during an effort to smuggle them out of the country.

”We are working with police to trace the addresses of two senders from different places in Kuta and Seminyak in Bali,” said Bagus Endro Wibowo, an enforcement and investigative officer from the Ngurah Rai Custom’s office.
The skeletons were in a packet addressed to Hawaii and were detected during a routine x-ray screening. The smugglers had tried to camouflage the shipment through the application of plaster and cattle horns. Closer examination, however, revealed that the packages contained human remains.

The listed names of the senders were John Wayne on Jalan Dhyanapura in Seminyak and the Gallery Primitive on Jalan Raya in Kuta. The addressee was Releigh Maureen at CSSI Wake Island, Malepono Street in Honolulu. Officials believe all addresses are fictional.

Police are also working with officials from Indonesia’s prehistoric service to determine if the bones are of ancient or a more contemporary origin.

Less than a week later, postal and customs officials at Ngurah Rai International Airport have detected and stopped another shipment of human bones. Bagus Endro Wibowo, the head of Enforcement Section of the Ngurah Rai Airport confirmed the seizure of bones.

In what appears as an attempt to conceal the actual sender and recipient, the sender listed on postal documents was “Rock Hodson” at Jalan Veteran 19 in Denpasar, with the recipient listed as “Robbo Hudson”, care of Alison Palmer in Herts, United Kingdom. The bones were contained in an Express Mail Service (EMS) packet.

Quoted by Radar Bali, Endro said, “The Bones were in a wooden box and had been altered in their form and decorated with horn and statuary. The sender declared that the box contained only handicrafts made from fiberglass”.

Customs officers are now coordinating with the Bali Police Headquarter to further identify the origin and age of the bones.

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An international real estate conference planned for Bali in May is prompting Indonesian property developers to lobby intensively for a change in Indonesian law to allow foreign nationals to purchase apartments and private residences.

Speaking to The Jakarta Globe, Teguh Satria of the Indonesian Real Estate Developers Association (REI) said, “The REI has chosen Nusa Dua, Bali, as the host for its 61st World Congress from 24 May to 28 May. It would be good to revise the regulation by then so Indonesia could not only act as the host, but could open its doors to the participants interested in purchasing property here”.

Separately, Indonesia’s Housing Minister, Suharso Monoarfa, confirmed that changes to the rules on property ownership by foreigners were under consideration. If approved, the areas and types of residents open to foreign property purchases would be restricted. Any changes would also likely stipulate minimum levels of investment and require a period of residence each year in the country.

While supporters of the change in property rules point to benefits in taxation and an improved foreign investment climate that would result from allowing foreign ownership of land, the strength of forces opposed to allowing any foreign ownership of Indonesian land should not be underestimated. Past efforts to liberalise the law to allow foreign land ownership have been consistently rejected by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court.

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An article in a leading Australian newspaper, The Australian, chronicles the surge in development experienced by Bali over the past decade, suggesting that the island’s carrying capacity for such development may have surpassed the breaking point and that “Bali's magic” may be under threat.

The article says “cracks are appearing in the system as archaic utilities and infrastructure buckle under rampant development denuding the island’s rain forests and coastline.” Equally alarming, are the warnings sounded that “the Balinese are in danger of disorientation from their attractive culture of customs, dance, music and art.”

Citing unheard of traffic jams, pollution, power blackouts, water shortages and piles of trash across the island, Oswar Mungkasa of the National Development Planning Board (BAPPENAS) says, “If Bali continues in this way, it will collapse in 10 years. For me, Bali is not as attractive as it was. Local government doesn’t realise it is sitting on a time bomb, because investors keep coming.”

Charged with helping Bali devise systems for waste management, Mungkasa, fears nothing short of a cholera outbreak will wake the Balinese up to the environmental disaster lurking in the near future.

According to Mungkasa, “The [Balinese] mindset is not educated or aware. They see sanitation as a cost, not an investment. They dump their rubbish in the drainage system. They cannot understand why they should change their habits.”

This lure of the investment dollar, has caused zoning rules to be ignored that stipulate setbacks from beach fronts, roads and rivers. Equally, rules that mandate a maximum building height of 15 meters and 40% open space for rain water re-absorption are flaunted by developers.

One Australian involved in Bali’s property sector described the current situation as one of “rampant and random urban sprawl”, reflecting that there is little land left for sale in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Areas once populated by local villages and fishing villages are now covered with hotels and villas; leaving future generations of Balinese disenfranchised from highly priced land that once housed family and ancestral temples.

The article quotes sources saying that Canggu, Tabanan and Bali’s southern peninsula will soon as evidenced by rampant development and soaring real estate prices.

A study undertaken less than one decade ago projected that the ideal population level for Bali was 2.3 million, a figure made a mockery of by a population now passing the 3.4 million mark. The head of the Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Wijaya said, “We have to upgrade electricity, water, sewerage and telecommunications. But there is no proper planning. Kuta and surrounding areas has blown out in population and size. Infrastructure is not keeping up with development”.

As a result, permits are issued by often time venal officials with no regard to carrying capacity issues, such as electrical power shortages and a shrinking water supply.

An Indonesian environmentalist, Yuyun Ismawati, said that recent water tests conducted in front of some of Bali’s most luxurious hotels in Seminyak were shocking. “The lab told me it was sewage. It was actually sea water. I would not swim in the ocean in Bali,” he said.

Blaming his fellow Balinese for having an “instant noodle” mindset, highly respected Balinese academic Adnyana Manuaba said, “No one seems conscious of the fact Bali is a small island with limitations”. Citing the one million plus motorbikes and vehicles on an island virtually bereft of mass transport, Manuaba added, “The government is happy to receive a lot of taxes from motor cars.”

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William Goodman, a Gili Trawangan resident from the UK, has broken the World Record for staying underwater, setting a new record total of 48 hours, 9 minutes and 17 seconds.

Will, aged 33, is a TDI Advanced Tri-mix instructor and Buddy Re-breather Instructor with Blue Marlin Dive on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. The daredevil diver went into the waters off Gili T at 08.11:33 hrs on 7 January 2010, emerging at 08:20:16 hrs on 9 January 2010.

Will Goodman has previously made 2 unofficial world records. The first was in 2005 when he spent 24 hours under water. In April 2008, he spent 33 hours underwater before abandoning his attempt due to the severe conditions and developing a bad skin irritation. This new record has been adjudicated by witnesses and will be registered with Guinness World Records™.

The support team for the dive included Simon Liddiard, owner of Blue Marlin Dive Centre in Lombok, and a team of PADI instructors. Official witnesses for the event included Tony Andrews from PADI.

Will’s dive was made using a combination of closed circuit re-breathers and open circuit scuba. During the attempt Will was submerged to a depth exceeding 6m for the first 20 minutes of the Record dive. He had no physical contact with the surface at anytime during his time underwater.

Sponsorship from O’Three, a British wetsuit company, provided Will with a custom-made 7mm wetsuit – a crucial comfort that he did not have in previous attempts. Nutrition was provided in liquid form using protein shakes. For entertainment during the long hours in the dark silence of the ocean, a waterproof housing was used for his iPod, while his support crew entertained and supported him throughout the long two days spent underwater.

To enable Will to maintain a constant depth, a metal frame was constructed and positioned under the sea. This provided a base point for Will and a crucial observation point for the support crew. His support crew replenished his air supply when necessary and monitored his health throughout the dive.

His previous records and training with the use of specialist equipment gave Will the ability to break the latest challenging record set by Robert Silva in Belize in September 2009, who managed 48 hours and 3 minutes. A determined Will Goodman has broken this record by staying underwater for 6 minutes longer than that challenging feat.

Congratulations to Will and Blue Marlin Dive on achieving this amazing World Record in Lombok!

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