Kona Classic, Day 8

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 11:45 pm

We decided to have a mostly-lazy day: slept in, breakfasted at Bubba’s, did a little shopping for Hawaiian shirts. Jeff was determined to find a decent Hawaiian shirt with a fish motif, and we finally found a good one: reefs along the bottom, fish everywhere, and a turtle being cleaned by tangs in the middle of the shirt – just like the photo he submitted for wide angle. I also got my first Hawaiian-print shirt (ladies sleeveless), so we were all prepared to gussie ourselves up for the Awards Banquet tonight.

Everyone began milling around the hosted bar around 6pm, and we snagged a table for our boat, plus divemaster Elaine. We were also joined by Rob, one of the Kona Aggressor captains and a friend of Tee and Dave’s from previous years, along with his girlfriend.

The first awards given were for the Reef Check categories: Reef Check had special categories (with prizes, but not the fancy blue dolphin statuette trophies) for Best Invertebrate, Best Vertebrate, and Best Reef Check Diver. Jeff won that last one! I was thrilled that we wouldn’t be going home empty-handed (even though Jeff really only came to learn and improve, I could tell he really wanted to at least place in some of the categories).

Then they got down to the serious awards. Each of the categories went by, and Jeff didn’t even get any Honorable Mentions. I could tell he was starting to be bummed, and trying not to be (since really, he didn’t expect to win anything this year).

Dave took the video contest, as usual, with a cute video set to the Beatles’ “Help” showing Dave deciding to take up scuba diving, and then totally panicking in the water. In between panic shots were all kinds of great critter shots; I hope my camera work is just HALF that steady.

The Locals Only video was won by the owner of Jack’s Diving Locker, who put together a real crowd-pleaser centered around those fancy bubble-rings that all tropical divemasters seem to be good at. He had all kinds of great bubble footage, including really fancy ones with multiple bubbles interacting with each other, and spinning off into little vortices. There were some great shots of turtles on the surface framed by a bubble ring as it rose up, and of freedivers swimming through the rings. Amazing stuff!

Incidentally, we were at the winning table – Rob had 4 trophies in front of him by now, from Macro, Wide Angle, Creative, and Topside (all fabulous photos), and John won Diver Portrait with a gorgeous shot of his wife Linda over the sailboat wreck, which was outlined by snappers hanging out in its shade. Elaine won in one of the Locals Only categories, so we had 6 blue dolphin sculptures weighing down our table – plus a pile of certificates for honorable mentions, 2nd and 3rd places, and Jeff’s Reef Check award.

Finally – drumroll please – it was time for the Best Overall categories. Jan (Jack’s divemaster) took it in the Locals Only with a fabulous cleaner-wrasse shot; we were thrilled because we adore her and her work. Kathy announced that the prize for Best Overall in the open category included a trip for two to Tahiti – and I leaned over to Jeff and whispered that he should definitely try to win next year!

Then the pros got up to introduce the winning photograph. They said that the photographer had made real improvements all week; every day, he or she had come to talk to the pros about their photos from the day, and come up with what to work on the next day. And the next day, they’d see the results of that conversation in the work, until by the end of the week the pictures had dramatically improved. (At this point, I started to hope it might be Jeff, even though I knew it was a long shot – he’d spent a lot of time working with the pros every evening.)

Marty Snyderman mentioned that it was ironic that he hadn’t seen a single turtle on this trip – and now I really started to think it might be Jeff, because the shot he submitted that all the pros had liked the most was a turtle shot. We had now reached the point where we would be disappointed if it wasn’t Jeff, even though it probably wasn’t.

But it was!

Open Category – Best Overall Image, Jeff Laity

We celebrated into the wee hours (well, midnight, when they close the bars) with Dave and Tee. Dave won a new video housing – I’m hoping I can talk him into selling one of his old ones, so I can shoot some video in Tahiti! The dratted trip will probably cost us more than it saves us, between airfare (not included) and all the photo equipment we’ll want to buy for it. It should be well worth it, though!

I sent Jeff home this morning with his pretty blue dolphin trophy (sculpted by Wyland, the guy who does all those calendar-worthy underwater paintings). He also got quite a pile of prizes donated by Body Glove, Pelican, Deep Outdoors, and others.

And as if all that wasn’t reward enough – all the first place winners will have their photos printed in the fall photo spread of Sport Diver magazine!We are very happy Laitys today.Yesterday we were about 90% sure we’d be heading back to the Kona Classic next year – now I’d say it’s a complete certainty! I hope we have as wonderful a group of boat buddies as this year, not to mention the pros who donated their time to helping everyone out. This is a truly fantastic event, and Jeff and I both had a blast. (And next year, Dave had better watch out – I plan to give him some competition in the video category!)

Check out the lucky shirt:


  1. Nice stories and a great trip… would have loved to be there! Keep shootin’!

    Comment by Ben — 5/23/2005 @ 10:35 pm

  2. Oh, I’m SO excited for both of you! I DEFINITELY want to join you guys next year :). Thanks for the great writeup!

    Comment by Carol — 5/24/2005 @ 8:11 am

  3. Way to go, Jeff!!! That is so awesome – I LOVE that photo (and all of the others). I’m glad you guys had a good trip – a great trip!

    Comment by Jen Yu — 5/24/2005 @ 8:32 am

  4. Holy moly! Tell Jeff congratulations!!

    Comment by Sam — 5/24/2005 @ 11:49 am

  5. Sounds like you guys had an amazing trip! Congratulations on your win Jeff! And I look forward to seeing some video Anna.

    Comment by Nicki — 5/27/2005 @ 3:02 pm

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