Florent M. Locatelli joined Mares & SSI in 2014; he is the “daddy” of
the new MARES│XR line and now International Training
Director for XR with SSI. We're happy to announce he's also on board with our blog and will be
sharing more of his experiences and product developments with us here so look
out for his posts!
We recently caught up with him to find out more about the world that
lies “farther, deeper, beyond”, what attracted him to technical diving and why
he loves it!
Hello Florent! Can you tell us a bit about how you got in to diving?
I was lucky enough to be born, 49 years ago, in a country surrounded by
sea, France, with a lot of lakes, rivers and caves. I can’t remember when and
where I started to dive, maybe it was before birth, but I can’t remember one
day of my vacations in which I didn’t spend hours in the sea looking at the
wonders hidden below the surface. I remember that I loved every second of it
and wanted more.
What came next?
In the 80’s, when I reached 16 years old, I officially started a dive
class with the French Federation and CMAS. We had a 2-hour training session one
evening per week in the pool: 1 week swimming, 1 week snorkeling, 1 week theory,
1 week swimming with tanks… and eventually 1 week we used the scuba diving
equipment under the pool’s surface…
The very last month of the year, we were finally allowed to go in the
sea, for more swimming, with or without tanks, but always on the surface…
It was difficult but I learned to dive. I was driven by passion, young
and strong enough to handle the commando style training. One dive level per
year, it took me a while but I finally became an Instructor.
I worked as an Instructor during the summer seasons in France and Spain.
Diving was not well known at that time and so I was also a lifeguard on duty on
the beach… the good old days!
At the same time I was also studying. I graduated
in International Business and Trade from a French Business School (ESC) in 1992
and in 1993 a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) at the University of
South Alabama. There, in the US, I discovered PADI. I crossed over easily and
discovered a new, different way of diving. I liked it and brought it back to
France with me later. I also discovered so-called “technical” diving. I realized
that another dimension of diving was out there and immediately got totally
hooked. Tec diving became my quest, my nirvana, my utmost passion.
I then had to serve for 2 years in the French Army. I was an Officer
(Lieutenant) based in the Caribbean islands and guess what? I was also in
charge of the Military Dive Club there during my free time!
Back in France, I decided that my life would be about diving and only
diving. I would dive into diving and my passion would also become
So you decided to become a dive industry
After a start with Decathlon I joined the Mares group in 1996, 20 years
ago, as European Business Developer and
Product Manager for the Sporasub Brand when the brand was taken over. I did
this for almost 6 years and was hired by a fantastic man: Jacques Altimani, who
was one of my mentors throughout my professional life.
I then worked for
Beuchat International for nearly 4 years in Marseille (2002) as France and Export Marketing and Sales
Manager. I was then E.ME.A. Dive Division Manager for Aqualung France
(2007) for 4 years, based in Nice, and another 4 years as Global Dive Business
Line Manager for Aqua Lung International, in Vista CA, directly responsible for
the global Aqualung dive strategy, product ranges, competition monitoring and
I returned to Mares in Rapallo on December 1st,
2014 to give birth to the complete Mares│XR range. Living the dream…
Are you also teaching?
Yes, at the same time I decided to become a Dive Education professional.
I went back to school and became:
Instructor Trainer and SSI XR Technical International Training Director
- PADI Course
Director - EFR Instructor Trainer - DSAT Tec Instructor Trainer
- SDI - TDI
Instructor Trainer: Nitrox to Adv Trimix, Helitrox, DIR, Full
cave, Sidemount, Technical DPV, O2 Service Tech, Gas Blender. Rebreather:
Inspiration , Evolution, Megalodon, MK6 & 7, JJCCR, Optima, Submatix
Instructor - CMAS Instructor ***
- Commercial diver - INPP Scaphandrier 2B
As one of the precursors to Tek diving in France, I set up one of the first Technical Diving schools in 2000: Aquatiks, which I still own but no longer manage.
Tell us more about deep wreck
discovery and exploration…
With the school I turned to the exploration of deep wrecks in the
Mediterranean and founded 2 diving teams, Triade
and later Pythéas, which discovered and explored more than 25 wrecks
below the 60m depth zone.
Over the past 15 years with the teams we discovered, and were the first to dive, some of the most famous
and renowned deep wrecks off the French coast. To name a few:
- The Protée submarine (130m), La
- The shipwreck of Natal (120m), Toulon,
- The Guyane/Niedersachsen (110m), Toulon
- The Bananier, La Ciotat
- The Sally of New York, Toulon
- The Stella, the Phoebus
- The Maréchal Canrobert (120m) off the port of Marseille 4 years ago.
This passion is a
drug. I am also the author of numerous articles on the subject for many
magazines, newspapers and web sites.
What about cave diving?
I have also managed
to dive some of the most famous caves and mines in the world, to name a few:
- Emergence du
Ressel, Landenouze, Marche-Pied, Saint-Georges, Saint-Sauveur, Trou Madame,
Cabouy, Pouymessens, Font del Truffe, Bestouan, Sormiou, Saint-Cézaire, Malansac, Opéra de Paris in France
Eye/Ear Ginnine Spring, Peackok Spring, Manatee Spring, Little River Spring,
Crystal River Spring in Florida, USA
- Dos Ojos
and Sac Aktun system, Angelita, Chac Mool system, The Pit, Pet Cemetary, Blue
Abyss in Mexico
- Ordinskaya in Russia
- Ojamo Limestone Mine in Finland
Although I am
not actively teaching leisure diving anymore, I am still an avid technical,
cave and rebreather diver and actively teaching tek, particularly mixed gas
rebreathers, deep wrecks and full cave.
Now, I share my time between Nice (France),
Rapallo (Italy) and Moscow (Russia). I have 2
boys, 8 and 12, both divers, from my first wife and I was gifted with another
12 year old boy from my new wife. Believe it or not, they all push me to
I am always
looking for a new cave or a new deep unexplored wreck… but also any uncommon
exceptional diving, no matter where! I want to dive more, learn more, and share
So welcome to the blog!
Thank you. I am very honored to have been invited to contribute on the
blog. I will post soon about the story of the MARES│XR line. Stay tuned…