Dive Hat Creator Les Gorski: A Self-Made Man

Dive Hat Creator Les Gorski: A Self-Made Man

With one big idea for a more comfortable, simpler diving helmet, an incredibly positive attitude, no formal engineering training and a whole lot of stubbornness, Polish-born Les Gorski invented and created the state-of -the-art diving helmet, the Gorski Hat. Gorski joined the Aqualung team in 2011 after the company bought his hat design. The most recent version, the Aqua Lung G3000SS Diving Helmet, was released last year with new features including a modern Apeks high performance balanced 2nd stage regulator, 4-wire communications, and new head liner and neck seal. In addition, the Gorski hat combined with the H3 Harness and Switch Block was approved last year by Germanisher Lloyd and DNV for European Certificate (CE) in Germany.

Double hose reg on Twins (3)

Double Hose Reg on Twins

Born in 1953 in Lodz, the geographical center of Poland, Les graduated with a degree in electronics and was then drafted into the Polish Army for two years, relocating him to the Baltic Coast. “My love of water was permanently established by then. Since I was young I had spent every vacation with my parents on the Baltic coast before anyway.”

1981 70m Dam in Poland (3)

1981 70m Dam in Poland

The scuba diving community in communist Poland was extremely tight then, and after Les was discharged from the Army, he moved to Koszalin, where he was married and where his two daughters were born. He joined a dive club; the community was tight but the equipment was poor. They were not able to import much from the west, in part because nobody could afford the expensive equipment. Around 1980, however, the club established the first private dive company doing some underwater inspections, basically on scuba equipment.

DIT: Why did you feel the need to create a new diving hat?

LG: A stainless steel helmet was always in my head. Layout and simplicity dominated in my creation. I spent a lot of time making sure for example it’ll be perfectly weight balanced and easy on a diver’s neck.

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DIT: Cool. Are you an engineer? What skills have picked up along the way helped you design and create the first Gorski hats?

LG: My college degree is on paper, and engineering came along through life experience. That’s what I like the best, self education. Skills? I don’t think you got enough room for that, LOL.

DIT: LOL. So what makes the Gorski hat different from other diving hats in use?

LG: It’s a totally different concept, simple and easy from every angle.

DIT: You emigrated from Europe to the USA. What differences did you notice in the dive world?

LG: Remember, it was communist Europe to me then so there were huge gaps between access to equipment, technology and education. There were no commercial diving schools in Poland at that time. We were self-educating ourselves — dangerous stuff in this business, but I’m still here.

DIT: Do you have any advice for new divers thinking of working in Europe?

LG: Advice to all divers is basically the same: go for it and never give up. It’s a rough business but I always loved it. Of course, a good education in this field is the biggest advantage, which I myself was not lucky enough to get in the beginning.

DIT: What have you learned since creating the hat?

LG: I was stubborn and I got more stubborn, which meant I never give up in any aspect of my life. It was the only way to succeed, especially in a field like helmet manufacturing, with which I was not at all familiar. Designing, which I really like and enjoy, was one thing, but getting into the production, learning about the technology and facing all obstacles was a totally different experience. That’s where the stubbornness comes in. For example, it took 2.5 years from the completed 3D computer design to finding and establishing a relationship with the foundry.

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Gorski Hat

DIT: What’s your life motto?

LG: Be happy, always smile! I’m a prime example, my positivity taking me from communist Poland to the Florida Keys. That’s living…

Written for DIT by Londi Gamezde

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