|Born||January 18, 1962
|Other names||Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras|
|Spouse(s)||Audrey Mestre 1999–2002|
Francisco Rodriguez, better known as Francisco 'Pipin' Ferreras (born January 18, 1962) is a Cuban free-diver renowned for his achievements in deep free diving and his relationship with his wife, Audrey Mestre.
Ferreras was born in Matanzas, on the northern coast of Cuba, and began to practice free-diving at the age of 5. "Pipin" was his nickname from childhood, and years later he added Ferreras.
Not much is known for certain about Ferreras' life in Cuba before his freediving career. From the late 1980s and onward he made a name of himself in the so-called "No-Limits"' discipline of freediving where he established his first known world record of 112 meters (367 ft) depth in November 1989. Shortly thereafter he defected to Italy and later migrated to Florida, United States. Through the 1990s he established a long series of World Records, often in close rivalry with Italian Umberto Pelizzari. During this phase, Ferreras' last logged record dive reached a depth of 162 meters (531 ft) in January 2000, 12 meters deeper than Pelizzari's deepest record.
In 1996, Ferreras established the sports association International Association of Freedivers (IAFD) in direct opposition to the organization AIDA, but this had limited sportive success and closed in 2004. All of Ferreras' record dives of this era were conducted within the ambit of IAFD.
Relationship with Audrey Mestre
Ferreras had two defunct marriages behind him when in 1996, he met French-born Mexican-national Audrey Mestre who was also a freediver herself. In 1999 they married, and quickly the two became a regular record-breaking couple in the sport of freediving, dividing men and women's records between them.
On October 12, 2002, Mestre died in an early attempt to break the 160 meters no-limits world record that Tanya Streeter had established a few weeks before on August 17, 2002 (it was at the time both men and women's official AIDA record), in a setup that didn't match common freediving security standards. Much of the diving community critique went to Ferreras who had hurried an underfunded organisation for this new record attempt that was previously planned at a later date, notably with too few safety divers, lacking proper rescue equipment, with no doctors at sea and shore. In a no-limits freedive, the standard diving method is holding on to a weighted sled to the target depth, and there open a pressurized air tank that fills a large inflatable balloon which carries the freediver back to the surface. On Mestre's fatal dive, this air tank was empty when Mestre reached her target depth of 171 meters (561 ft). Ferreras was in charge of Mestre's air tank. Mestre was not recovered to the surface until nine minutes into her dive, and at that point it was too late to revive her. It was Ferreras who dove from the surface in scuba gear and recovered Mestre's passed-out body.
A year after her death, Ferreras completed a no-limits dive to match Mestre's depth of 171 meters.
- Current Freediving World Records
- APNEA MANIA, massive freedive info
- Deeperblue.net, a popular website for discussion and news
- Website about The Last Attempt, a book by Carlos Serra
- Article about Serra's book
- Youtube clip with Ferreras
- Youtube clip with Mestre and Ferreras (Italian)
- Sports Illustrated cover story, 'The Deadly Dive', about Audrey Mestre's death