Born in the Netherlands, Theo is a scuba diving and advanced free diving instructor, a skydiving tandem instructor, and an author of books on Caribbean destinations. He joined Cressi following a 10-plus-year career as a frogman in the Special Boat Service (SBS), the special forces unit of the UK’s Royal Navy (the equivalent of a U.S. Navy SEAL). In all his roles, he has been able to spread his passion for diving throughout the Caribbean. He is the co-founder and chairman of the War Veterans Foundation Bonaire.
I witness that we need to act (now!) on a daily basis. Luckily, Mr. Cressi and all his staff spare no effort in improving every part of the company, making it as environmentally friendly as possible. While I am scuba diving, it’s about the ocean and what lives in it — the animals, critters, etc. Whether I am diving in a cave, wreck, the Arctic or tropical waters, what I love is being in the water and seeing (and protecting) what’s in it. But while I am freediving, my perspective changes a bit — it’s still about the ocean, but it’s also about me in it. I believe the right term is “mindfulness.” I love both sports the same, but it’s a bit like breakfast and dinner — they both belong in everyday life, but have their own specific purpose.
I was born in the Netherlands, a big part of which is below sea level, so that made me automatically very close to the ocean. At a young age I chose to serve my country as a frogman in the SBS — for more than a decade, you could find me in the waters around the world. In between tours in Cambodia and Bosnia, I was stationed in the Caribbean. It was here that I started to teach scuba to civilians in my spare time and really fell in love with the Caribbean Sea. I chose to go back to live a dive life as a civilian on island time after I retired early. I wanted to focus on how to improve the dive industry from within by being on the gear side.
I am blessed with great family and friends who support and motivate me every day. I have been inspired by the extreme diving that frogmen do around the world, and this has formed a big part of how I look at dive gear and the needs divers have. Within Cressi, my friend Bob Leite has taught me an awful lot in the last 17 years.
I still strive to participate in sports as much as I can. I continue to run races a few times a year — not triathlons anymore, but mostly road races. As a skydive tandem instructor, some old friends and I just started a nonprofit foundation, Skydive Bonaire, and I am the chairman of War Veterans Foundation Bonaire. I have also written some books. When I am not traveling for Cressi, I work from my home office and am indulged by my family. I love to cook our main meal at lunchtime and when Edmee, my wife, comes home together with our “dragons” (an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl), I am reminded of what matters most to me.
For scuba, I love the AC2 first stage, the Free Frog 2.0 fins and the Zeus mask. All three are industry icons. for free diving, I love the Gara 3000 fins, any of our snorkels and the Nano mask — it’s also a scuba mask, but it’s just as good for any free-diving discipline as deep as 200 feet.
My special position as an Ambassador allows me to show what we have accomplished and also to act and strive to make a more sustainable world. On behalf of all my coworkers, I take every opportunity to share that we are divers at Cressi and that we care deeply about environmental responsibility. I gladly do this to showcase our credibility as a dive gear manufacturer. I am proud to be the face of all our employees who have spent their lives in and around the ocean. We at Cressi are divers, dive instructors and freedive instructors, but even more importantly, we love to be in the water just like any of you.