Waking up in the Alps, I jumped in the car and set off for the Italian Riviera and the Mares headquarters! In my mind I was James Bond, slaloming down from the mountains to collect the latest gadgets from Q-Branch! In reality, we were off to Sardinia on holiday, with daughter and dog in the back seats and every bit of available space filled with luggage, presents, dog food and Easter eggs. There would be no space to snaffle any of the latest ‘field equipment’.
Since our route was taking us past Rapallo on the way to the ferry in Livorno, I reached out to Dusko and asked if it would be possible to drop in. I joined the Mares Team during the pandemic, and although we’ve chatted on Zoom and regularly by email, I’d never actually met anyone from the head office face-to-face. Today was a chance to put that right.
I warned Dusko I’d have the family in tow, and generously we were all invited for lunch in town and a quick tour of the building. We had lunch first at the fantastic Taverna Azzurra on the sea front (highly recommended if you are in that part of the world). Unsurprisingly, we all committed to trofie and pesto in some combination or another. My wife Eleonora (and Dusko) ordered black trofie pasta with seafood; Isabella, my daughter, devoured the classic Trofie al Pesto (with some help from her Dad) and I had the Lasagne alla Portofino, which was a delicious oven baked dish with layers of pesto, tomato sauce and béchamel. Just in case you were concerned, Zena, our sausage dog, might have got the occasional morsel too!
Fully recharged, we drove back up to Mares HQ for a quick tour, all four of us including the dog! I am not sure of the official policy for allowing sausage dogs to tour the facility, but it was too hot to leave her in the car and she proved a very popular visitor!
My overriding impression of the visit was how everything at Mares revolves around the engineering – I left feeling that they could make anything they wanted to, they just choose to follow their passion and specialise in engineering excellent underwater equipment. So much of the building is devoted to designing, materials, testing, assembling and more testing. As a user of Mares gear, I trust it to work, and it was fascinating to see the men and women who check and test each item to make sure it truly does.
I also got to see a nice selection of new products. Some coming out this season and some for the future that I had better not say too much about. Two items I am really excited about are the gorgeous SXS 62X regulator, which seems perfect for a travelling photographer like me, and the XR-REC Trim Backmount System that is tough, yet so lightweight, easily customisable and super comfortable – that is going to be such a popular product.
Although I didn’t snare any new equipment, Isabella did very well. She’s five and busy doing swimming lessons at the moment, and two separate swimming coaches had told us to get Zoggs goggles for her as they are the standout brand. Buying some was on our to-do list for the Easter holidays, then when standing right outside their office we discovered that Zoggs are part of the HEAD family! Isa is now the proud owner of several pairs of swimming goggles to keep her going as she grows. She loves the demon-eye hologram ones – even wearing them in the car – whoever designed these certainly knows their target audience.
Thanks to Dusko and everyone we met for a most enjoyable visit.