DESCENDED A record 558 feet into the waters of the Pacific,
Francisco (Pipin) Ferreras, who, along with his late wife, Audrey
Mestre, was the subject of SI's June 16 cover story, THE DEADLY
DIVE. The Oct. 12 plunge, which Pipin made on a weighted sled
without the aid of a scuba tank, beat his own world-record No
Limits descent of 531 1/2 feet.
The dive, which occurred on the first anniversary of Mestre's
death, targeted virtually the same depth at which she perished
off the coast of the Dominican Republic, and took place in the
waters off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the couple met in '96.
It was nicknamed Operation Audrey and designed to bring closure
for the freediving star. Hundreds of people were on hand for the
two-minute-and-39-second dive. They included James Cameron--the
Titanic director who hopes to make a movie about Ferreras's
tragic marriage to Mestre and who had the dive filmed
underwater--and Salma Hayek, who is hoping to play the part of
the deceased diver who depicted herself in drawings as a mermaid.
After the successful dive Ferreras's website was flooded with
e-mails from all over the world. One from Turkey read,
"Congratulations Pipin! The dolphin met the mermaid yesterday. I
hope that now you can have your peace." But would Operation
Audrey bring peace to Ferreras? A few days before the event
Carlos Serra, the man who organized Pipin's previous record
attempts, left Cabo San Lucas and broke ties with his business
partner. Their dispute was over the lack of safety procedures in
place for this dive and a disagreement over who was responsible
for the events that led to Mestre's death. Ferreras's refusal to
adhere to the safety protocols established by AIDA--the French
acronym for the International Association for the Development of
Apnea--meant that his new record will go unrecognized by
freediving's mainstream sanctioning body.