Hans Hass “Diving To Adventure” Award

Laurent Ballesta Hans Hass Award Recipient 2013

L to R. Hans Hass Committee member Leslie Leaney holds the Award, Laurent Ballesta, Committee Chairman Krov Menuhin, Blancpain's Alexios Kitsopoulos

The HDS Hans Hass Award Committee are pleased to announce that the 2013 award recipient is French marine biologist and research diver Laurent Ballesta.

This year the Hans Hass Awards Committee were please to be partnered in the presentation by Swiss watch-maker Blancpain, who celebrated the 60thanniversary of the company’s Fifty Fathoms watch. In addition to the Hans Hass Award, Blancpain presented Laurent with an especially engraved “Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award” watch, recognizing the international significance of his achievement.

Born in 1974 in south of France, Laurent combines his passion for underwater photography with his skills at diving to extreme depths. With meticulous attention to every detail during his deep diving research expeditions and unique photographs from the depths of the ocean, Laurent has gained recognition in numerous international publications. He has presented hundreds of lectures and written over a dozen books on the oceans. In announcing the award, the Award Committee comprising of Chairman, the Honorable Krov Menuhin, Ernie Brooks II, and Leslie Leaney, made particular reference to Laurent’s successful pioneering dives to film Ceolacanths at depths between 100 and 200 meters, and his expedition work  “in the spirit of Hans Hass.”

Although unable to attend the presentation, Professor Hans Hass sent the following letter to the Committee.

Dear diving enthusiasts and friends of the underwater world,

I am very happy that this year´s laureate of the Hans Hass Award is a dedicated marine biologist and a very talented underwater photographer: Laurent Ballesta! When I read Laurent Ballesta´s biography, it reminded me of my own beginnings. I also tried to get people to know and understand the oceans´ beauty by the means of underwater photography and films, and I promoted the protection of this invaluable habitat. I also used a soundless closed-circuit breathing apparatus to take my pictures undisturbedly. Back then, I was not able to dive as deep as Laurent Ballesta can do today by using mixed gas, but two of our diving sites aren´t located too far from each other: Whereas Laurent Ballesta went down to 192 meters off the Villefranche-sur-Mer coast, staying there for more than six hours, I first had to content myself with the dive time a few deep breaths allowed me at the Cap d’Antibes. Later, my scuba gear that I invented in 1942 opened the doors to the underwater world. Regardless many decades lying between my experiences and those of Laurent Ballesta we share the same spirit. We are driven by an idea, a vision. I wish Laurent Ballesta all the best and great success in his future projects, and I hope his message of marine protection to be spread as wide as possible! I would like to thank Swiss watch manufacturer BLANCPAIN and it’s President Marc A. Hayek, who have sponsored this award ceremony. I would also like to thank Krov Menuhin, Chairman of the Award Committee.

Kind regards,

Hans Hass

Vienna, January 23, 2013

The Award was presented at the Dusseldorf Boat Show, the largest marine industry exhibition in the world, one day after the 94th birthday of pioneer ocean explorer Austrian Professor Hans Hass. Blancpain Project Manager Alexios Kitsopoulos presented Laurent with his Hans Hass Fifty Fathom Award watch, congratulating him on his achievements and excellence in the fields of diving, underwater photography, and science.

Blancpain & the underwater world

Driven by its own pioneer spirit since its foundation in 1735, Blancpain’s historical connection with diving goes back to 1953, when the watch manufacturer developed a diver’s timepiece for the French navy: the Fifty Fathoms. This mechanical masterpiece was named after its guaranteed water resistance to 50 fathoms (91.44 meters) and defined the characteristics of diving watches ever since. Today, the collection remains the benchmark in the field, combining watchmaking expertise with indispensable safety standards.

Blancpain’s passion for the underwater world has led to its commitment to helping as many people as possible learn about this vast and mysterious universe. The brand believes that people can only respect and protect what they love, and can only love what they know. To serve this mission, Blancpain strongly supports National Geographic’s exploration, research, and conservation project Pristine Seas Expeditions, and publishes Edition Fifty Fathoms which is dedicated to underwater science and adventure and has distinguished itself with its extraordinary photography. The manufacturer also has a partnership with record-holding free diver Gianluca Genoni and was lead sponsor of the Economist’s first World Oceans Summit in 2012.

For more information: press at blancpain

About the Hans Hass Award

Laurent Ballesta Hans Hass Award Recipient 2013

Laurent Ballesta Hans Hass Award Recipient 2013

Laurent Ballesta Hans Hass Award Recipient 2013

Blancpain is proud to honor Laurent Ballesta with the “Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award 2013”