William Hogarth Main

William "Bill" Hogarth Main is a cave diving pioneer who is best known as a developer in the 1980s, and the namesake of, the "Hogarthian gear configuration" that is a component of the "Doing It Right" (DIR) holistic approach to scuba diving. According to Jarrod Jablonski, the Hogarthian style "has many minor variations, yet its focus asserts a policy of minimalism."[1] The configuration was refined in the 1990s, partially through the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP),[2] established in 1985 and considered among the most aggressive cave diving initiatives in the world.

William "Bill" Hogarth Main
ResidenceHigh Springs, Florida, USA
Known forDeveloper of the Hogarthian dive gear configuration

Main began diving in 1966 or early 1967 after completing the NAUI Open Water Course, made his first cave dive on a single tank in 1969, and switched to double tanks on a single regulator in 1972. Main describes this period: "There was no formal cave training back then. We just worked things out as we went along, and made the things we needed that didn’t exist."[3] Following a challenging dive, Bill Gavin and Main decided that all WKPP deep dives would be on mixed gas.[3]

Described as "a perfectionist," Main and Sheck Exley adopted the long hose that had been devised by dive partner Capt. John Zumrick, M.D. and began methodically applying the principle of minimalism, efficiency, and safety to every component of his dive gear.[4] (For more detail on Hogarthian rigs, see Doing It Right (scuba diving)#Equipment and configuration.) Fellow WKPP founding member Gavin added to the Hogarthian approach a philosophy that a well-functioning human body was the most important piece of equipment of a diver and that a diver should care for his or her body accordingly. At this point, George Irvine, director of the WKPP, added a third component emphasizing use of the highest quality and best maintained equipment.[4] Gavin, Main, Lamar English, Irvine, and Jablonski all cultivated the idea that there was an ideal equipment configuration that should be standardized among the WKPP divers. As Main put considerable efforts towards streamlining configurations, his middle name was taken to represent the approach.[5] Main asserts that term "Hogarthian" was initially used as a joke by fellow diving pioneer John Zumrick.[3]

While Main continues to tinker with equipment in the search of ever more efficient configurations, the "Hogarthian approach" became widely known, largely through the WKPP breaking every distance record for cave diving without any fatalities or serious injuries. The configuration is sometimes abbreviated "Hog" or "hog," often by divers who are unaware that it refers to a person, with at least one claim in the DIR diving community that William Hogarth Main is a fictional person.[6] While "Hogarthian" and "DIR" were sometimes used interchangeably in early descriptions of the approach, by 2010, "Hogarthian" referred to gear configuration, as opposed to the holistic system of DIR of which Hogarthian rigs were a part. The most obvious component of the “Hogarthian” configuration is constant improvement.

See also


  1. Jablonski, Jarrod (21 March 1997). "The Hogarthian Gear Configuration". rec.scuba. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  2. "The Origin of Hogarthian Configuration". Dive Gear Express. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  3. "Interview with Bill "Hogarth" Main". X-Ray Mag. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  4. Remley, Win. "The Hogarthian Way" (PDF). Advanced Diver Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  5. Jablonski, Jarrod. "Evolution of DIR Principles". globalunderwaterexplorers.org. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  6. Lewis, Steve. "Hi, my name is Bill and I'm here to help…". Doppler's Tech Diving Blog. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
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