meet the crew

From deep sea diving to rowing

The Bubbleheads is made up of 4 saturation divers. Claimed to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, our crew are no strangers to living and working in challenging environments.

Living at depths of 100m+ for up to 28 days and on average 5 days away from the surface at any time (it’s quicker to get back from the moon!), the life of a saturation diver requires peak physical condition and the mental strength of a warrior. In addition, saturation divers endure challenging subsea conditions, the emotional difficulty of being away from family and friends and dropping anything and everything to go to work, sometimes with as little as 24 hours notice.

Rowing experience is limited to Concept2 rowers in the gym. Yes you heard that right, none of us have ever rowed before!

It’s going to be a steep learning curve!

Chris Ayres

Chris Ayres

Originally a plasterer by trade, Chris hung up his tools in 2008. Seeking more excitement from his job and keen to make a career out of diving following a scuba dive on holiday, Chris sold his plastering business and re-trained as a diver.

There was never any doubt in his mind saturation diving was where he wanted to end up, and over the course of 5 years undertook all the appropriate training to enable himself to reach the career pinnacle of a North Sea saturation diver.

The thrill of jumping into the abyss from the safety of a 150m deep saturation bell never fades, even after clocking up 100s of hours subsea.

As a dedicated family man, being away from home proves the greatest challenge for Chris. Despite varying shift patterns, lengthy dives and helium filled voices, modern communications enables contact with his family whilst away.

Rowing the Atlantic will be the biggest challenge Chris has ever undertaken. Not only will it take him away from his family, it will test him physically and mentally beyond anywhere he has ever been; a totally life changing experience. It will also give his daughter a pretty epic story for her show and tell!

Andy Taw

Andy Taw

Following a lengthy stint in the forces as a Royal Navy Clearance Diver and as the branches youngest Clearance Diver for 4 years, offshore saturation diving was the most likely next step in Andy’s diving career.

From clearing minefields in Iraq to undertaking top secret work in the Mediterranean, and living on a desert island in the Far East for a month to working in Norway with the SBS in temperatures down to -43, saturation diving continues to give Andy the variation and challenges he seeks since leaving the Navy. Andy’s first saturation dive was in the Dutch sector in 2011, and since then he has clocked up 100s of hours in the North Sea.

Appreciative of time spent at home in between jobs, Andy uses his spare time for a wide variety of extreme sports including kite surfing, snowboarding and surfing.

By undertaking a challenge of this scale, Andy is prepared for pain; as to how much pain only time will tell. However there is no doubt his military mentality of pushing himself past every pain barriers whilst experiencing the ultimate in sleep deprivation and in the most challenging conditions, this is truly going to be his biggest test.

Bernie Saupe

Bernie Saupe

Before becoming a saturation diver, Bernie’s career was in the fitness industry, as a Personal Trainer. Seeking ‘more’ from his job and attracted to the world of diving by its challenging environment, Bernie retrained as a commercial diver in 2010. Since then, he has quickly climbed the career ladder and in 2013 reached the pinnacle of diving when he qualified as a saturation diver.

Despite the original attraction of the challenging environment being a diver guarantees, the solitude, total lack of natural light and breathing recycled gas continues to be the biggest test for Bernie when spending weeks away from home, subsea. In stark contrast to the conditions experienced in a saturation chamber at the bottom of the North Sea, when he is home Bernie spends as much time as he can outdoors.

When the opportunity to enter the TWAC arose early in 2019, the physical aspect of the challenge naturally appealed to Bernie. With a number of ultra marathons already under his belt, building up the necessary fitness required for this challenge, Bernie will no doubt take in his stride.

james Piper

james Piper

James was exposed to the world of diving from a very early age, so following in the footsteps of his diver father, James trained as a Mine Clearance Diver for the Royal Navy after he left college.

Life as a Clearance Diver was exciting, challenging and enabled the ongoing learning of new skills. It also opened James eyes to the other opportunities available with such new found skills… saturation diving. What followed, was an all-consuming journey of training to get to that point and in 2013 James qualified as a saturation diver.

Like the others, time spent away from home is the biggest challenge but James is also dealing with the added complexity of his wife, Nikki’s illness. Since her diagnosis and as Nikki’s partner and carer, life as they knew it has changed beyond all recognition.

James knows better than most how valuable the support of a close community is and an opportunity such as this challenge enables James to raise vital funds for Wessex Cancer Trust so that the support centres and services for families living with cancer are more readily available.


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Become a corporate partner, join our 250 Club or donate to Wessex Cancer Trust.

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