Safety Rules: An essential building block when becoming a kitesurfer

By: Michael Mahe

Kitesurfing has become a popular sport and the equipment has become increasingly safe over recent years. Like any sport, safety should be the number one priority for any rider. In Mui Ne there are sometimes more than 150 kiters on the water, and thanks to commonly accepted rules, accidents are kept to a minimum.

The most important authority issuing security rules is the International Kiteboarding Organization (“IKO”). IKO also accredits and sets guidelines for kite schools and kite instructors. No wonder, that safety is prominent when learning kitesurfing. Even before flying a kite for the first time, students will learn how to properly take care of the equipment, the right of way rules, and other safety tricks.

All kiters should wear appropriate safety gear, which include a helmet, a life jacket, booties when needed, and also have a line cutter (to cut kite lines should the kiter become entangled in them).  Kiters are advised to never use a board leash (a line that connects the kiter with the board).

Should a kitesurfer get detached from her board in the sea, she should know how to “body drag” in the water with the kite only and recover the board.

It is also important that every kiter know the practice of “self-rescue”. This is a technique used to reach the shore in case of a mishap on the water, like a broken kite line, a deflated kite, an injury after a trick, sudden drop in wind strength, or acute fatigue. The kiter needs to roll the lines around her bar in this case and use the kite as some sort of sail in the water in order to drift towards the shore.

Photo by: Frolova Elena - Shutterstock

Most accidents happen actually on land, and not on water. That’s why it is important to never fly a kite with power on the beach. After launching the kite, it is important to im/mediately proceed and go on the water with the board.

The kiter must also make sure that there are no obstacles or people “downwind” when launching or landing a kite, as wind turbulences may make the kite drift downwind and hit them.

Of course, advanced riders should not do any tricks or high jumps close to the beach: when the kite gets out of control, it might hit bystanders.

Photo by: Shutterstock

Every kitesurfer also needs to learn proper right of way rules. The most important rule is that the rider who is going out on the water and is near the beach has priority over the rider who is coming towards the beach.

Then, when two riders are crossing, the rider “upwind” needs to put her kite high in the sky, while the rider “downwind” should lower her kite. This way, the 25 meter long kite lines will not get entangled.

Kitesurfing also has several hand signals. This is important in particular when launching or landing the kite. With hand signals, the kiter and the launch helper can communicate properly.

For example, the kiter will tap on her head in order to signal that she wants to land her kite. While intuitive, the “thumbs up” signal means that the kite is fine, the kite lines are in order, and the kiter is ready to launch.

Finally, taking good care of the equipment is important, in particular in the tropics like in Vietnam--salt water and hot temperatures may cause rapid degradation of the kite, the bar, the board, and the safety systems.

Once a kiter observes the safety rules, she can enjoy the sport with peace of mind and progress in all safety in this fascinating sport!


Vietnam’s First 100% Foreign Investment Golf Course to Be Closed Down

By: Phuong Tran

Vietnam’s First 100% Foreign Investment Golf Course to Be Closed Down

Ocean Dunes Golf CourseRang Dong Joint Stock Company has decided to close down the 20-year-old Ocean Dunes Golf Club next month amid plans for a high-end, multi-purpose complex.

The golf course has not been a great business success since it first opened to the public in 1996. In fact, in the 10 years since 2004, it generated a loss of 115 billion VND. There have been too few paying golfers to offset the huge maintenance cost of more than 62 hectares of what could well be the most beautiful garden area of Phan Thiet.

That is a shame for a golf course that was once ranked among the top ten most beautiful golf courses in Asia, designed by none other than one of the greatest golfers ever, Nick Faldo.

The Ocean Dunes golf course was funded by American billionaire Larry Hillblom, a co-founder of the giant express delivery service DHL Worldwide Express, who died in a plane crash in 1995. Ownership passed on to a consortium of four investors and since the end of 2013, the provincial People’s Committee licensed the course to the Rang Dong Joint Stock Company – which also owns Phan Thiet’s Sea Links Golf and Country Club.

Ocean Dunes Golf CourseThe government is expected to gain 1000 billion VND from the conversion. At the same time, the new urban development would help streamline the coastal highway system.

The plan has not been without its critics. Nguyen Van Thu, former chairman of Binh Thuan Province, believes that demolishing the Ocean Dunes golf course would cut green space from Phan Thiet which already lacks parks and tree areas. Nguyen Van Thanh Binh, chairman of the Binh Thuan Architect Association, agrees and says that Phan Thiet has only one beautiful park, so Ocean Dunes should be converted to parkland to improve the green environment here.

While waiting for approval, Rang Dong will close the golf course on April 1 to cut losses. Current members are given the opportunity to transfer their membership to the Sea Links Golf and Country Club.


Golf in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne

By: Simon Stanley

There are two 18-hole golf courses in the area:

Ocean Dune is located in Phan Thiet and was opened in 1995.  As Sir Nick Faldo design, this course is starting to show its age but is a great resort golf course. The holes are mostly flat and early morning or later in the afternoon are the best times to play because it can get extremely hot.

The sea breezes tend to be at their strongest during the afternoon. The par 3 ninth hole has been voted one as one of the top 100 holes in the world.

Sea Links was designed in 2006 by Ron Fream of Golfplan and is often voted as the most challenging golf course in Vietnam.  It is worth the challenge because the views to the ocean, especially from holes 7 and 8 are spectacular. 

Both clubs have full facilities with excellent clubhouses offering local and international cuisine.  Cadies are mandatory and buggies are optional.  Ocean Dunes is an easier walking course than Sea Links.

Staying in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne

The Vietnamese tend to stay in the smaller hotels of Phan Thiet and the touristsand ex-pats will stay in the very popular holiday destination of Mui Ne.

There are more than 70 resorts located on the beach front, from two star to five star, plus restaurants offering local and international cuisine, with local seafood as the speciality of the area.  Prices are very moderate.  There are also many shops, spas and bars for relaxation and fun.

Sea Links and Ocean Dunes have their own hotels. Ocean Dunes is embraced by the Du Parc Phan Thiet Ocean Dunes Golf and Resort, with 123 spacious rooms, restaurant, pool and entertainment option including a private 1 km stretch of sand along renowned Eastern Sea beach. Sea Links also has villas and apartments for short term rental.

Practical informations

Prices at both golf courses are very reasonable and both golf courses offer special offers most of the time.  For example, twilight golf, after 2pm is available at Ocean Dunes for around $60.  It is best to check the websites, or get the Resort you are staying in to check current prices for you, as they change every month.  Both golf courses offer stay and play packages.

The Sea Links website is www.sealinkscity.com, Ocean Dunes is www.vietnamgolfresorts.com.

Golf is possible all the year round.  There are two seasons – hot and dry from October to March and hot and rainy from April until September.

Phan Thiet and Mui Ne are 200 kilometres north of Saigon and about 5 hours drive by road and 4 hours by train.

Writer: Simon J Tinkler


Kitesurf Championships: A lot of travel and hard work

By: Michael Mahe

Kitesurf Championships: A lot of travel and hard work

Kitesurfing has become a competitive sport with a number of different championships.  Participating in kitesurf championships often involves hard training during the winter months and lots of travel during spring, summer, and autumn, when the circuit is in full swing.

The most important tournament is “Kite World Tour” organized by the “PKRA” (Professional Kiteriders Association) and is considered by many as the Formula 1 of kitesurfing.

The championship is organized as a circuit around world with locations like Morocco, China, KitesurfGermany and France. Riders compete in three different disciplines:  freestyle (jumps and tricks), course racing (similar to a regatta in sailing), and wave riding.

They accumulate points at each event, and at the end of the year, the rider with the most points becomes world champion.

Professional riders participating in the Kite World Tour tend be young and most are less than 20 years old.  The current world champions in Alex Giselafreestyle are Alex Pastor (Men) and Gisela Pulido (Women), both from Spain.

The KTA (Kite Tour Asia) is a regional competition in Asia, and spans a number of Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, China, and Indonesia.  In the past, Mui Ne in Vietnam was also part of this circuit.  The current Asian Champion in Freestyle Men is Nguyen Duc Long from Vietnam (the local hero in Mui Ne), and Aya Oshima from Japan.Kitesurf

A native Muine, born in 1992, this young man has already had several years experience in such a sport that is still very new to many Vietnamese. Well-built, young and daring to challenge the nature, Long is widely considered an icon in Muine as he brings hope and opportunities to other youngsters

With a broader acceptance of kitesurfing, it is likely that it will become an olympic discipline and it may even replace windsurfing, which is considered a declining sport.

kitesurfAs of date, Mui Ne has yet to see its own local competition.  A lack of sponsors has impeded any organisation of anything more than some friendly face-offs on the water.


Sea Links Golf Course - Heaven or Hell

By: Simon Stanley

Since it’s opening in 2006, Sea Links has been the topic of conversation of many golfers in Vietnam. Located in the popular tourism area of Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Sea Links has been voted on many occasions as the most challenging golf course in Vietnam.  The writer has been involved with Sea Links since the appointment of the golf architect, Ron Fream of Golfplan. 

Ron reckoned that this was one of the last golf courses he would design – he was well into his 60’s by then and had already designed over 150 golf courses world-wide – and would make it the most challenging he has ever designed.  And he certainly has achieved that!

As a golfer who has played this links style golf course on many occasions, I can tell you I have lost many golf balls and for sure played well over my handicap most times.

So what makes this championship course so demanding?  When you first arrive at Sea Links, you have no idea what you have in front of you.  Your first view of the golf course is undulating fairways with beautiful views of the ocean.  The impressive club house and welcoming receptionists greet you with a smile.  You change in the large, well equipped locker rooms and then meet your caddie, waiting for you by your buggy. 

The driving range is to hand and provides the opportunity to warm up before you set out on your adventure.  The caddie will automatically take you to the blue tees, because, regardless of playing ability, these are the “Asian” tees – the ones which all Asians play off.  You do not want to appear inadequate and you make no indication to go to the fairer and more enjoyable white tees.  The forward or red tees are the least demanding, by the way.  You see in front of you fairways the like of which you have never seen before.  Severe undulations, huge bunkers and then the fear factor comes in.

Your caddie will tell you where to aim and you do your best.  Having got over your nerves, you then view the enormous greens, with awaiting bunkers.  And the greens are huge!!  The distance from the front to the back of the green can be a difference of two or three clubs.  But it is the bunkers that can destroy your game, especially the monster on the right hand side of the second green. 

When you arrive at the seventh hole, you will be amazed and delighted at the view over the East China Sea and with clear visibility, you can see the famous Ke Ga lighthouse.  The views will take away the difficulty of the hole, a dog leg right with out of bounds on the right and a bunker just where you would like to hit your drive to.  The eight hole, a par 3, has been voted as best par 3 in Vietnam and the sea breeze makes club selection very difficult.

There are no easy holes at Sea Links but I have to say, it is well worth the experience of playing.  Forget the rows of villas that make it look like a housing estate, ignore the condominiums that block the views and let yourself in for the challenge of a lifetime and I bet you will do like everyone else – come back and play the golf course again.

Because the next time you know you will do better, the same as everyone else.  One day I am going to tame this course and afterwards raise a glass of beer to the devil himself, Ron Fream.

It is heaven or is it hell?  Play the course and decide.  Let us know your thoughts!

Sea Links is located in Mui Ne and is part of the Sea Links City Group, with a hotel, villa and condominium complex.
www.sealinkscity.com


Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament 2015 hosted at Jibes Watersport Centre

By: City Pass Guide

Saturday the 4th of July saw the 5th Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament, hosted at Jibes Watersport Centre, Full Moon Village Suoi Nuoc.

This year, seven well trained teams participated in the competition: Pandanus Resort, Jibe’s Water Sport Center, Ball Slappers, Victoria Resort, French Team, Takalau and Princess D’An Nam.

After a briefing from the referees on rules and regulations, the competition began at 10:00 am to the delight of the competitors and spectators under a sunny tropical sky.

A beautiful lunch was organized for competitors to get their strength back and relax, before completing the heats and starting the semi-finals and final.

Against all odds, Victoria team, great winner from last year, were knocked out by Takalau, and took 4th place in the ranking. Takalau, determined to honor its first participation, played hard and made it through each heat to eventually find themselves at the final. After defeating Princess D’An Nam, Takalau played the grand finale against Pandanus.

After a finale full of suspense and rebounds, Pandanus was finally the winner!!

Enthusiast volleyball players, professional, expat or Vietnamese ensured an amazing tournament. The 5th competition was full of emotion and suspense until the end, all the teams fought hard to win. 

After a great day of competition, the teams, spectators and sponsors gathered to give huge applause for all the effort put in by the competitors at the Awards Ceremony.

The day’s activities concluded with a Beach Barbeque and After Party where everyone dined and danced the night away. The perfect end to a great sporting event.

The 5th Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament was a great success with motivated and well trained teams. Congratulations to the winners, Pandanus and all the teams who competed.

We would like to thank our referees, our speaker who animated the event, and all our sponsors for their generous contribution: Sea Links Golf, Whale Village Guest House, Full Moon Village, Coco Beach Resort, Marou Chocolate, Coco Cola, Le fruit, The Warehouse, AHI Co LTD, Tropical Mini Golf, Jibe’s Water Sport Club, Takalau Resort, The Cliff, and SEL company. 

We hope to see you all there again next year on the 2nd of July 2016 for the 6th edition of the Beach Volley ball Tournament.

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