The 5th Suoi Nuoc Sunrise Surf Competition - November 2015

By: City Pass Guide

In November 2015, the 5th annual Sunrise, Surf contest will be held. With a one month waiting period to ensure best surf conditions at Suoi Nuoc, Mui Ne, the competition will feature a men’s and women’s division. Discipline will be short board and/or long board.

With competitors from Vietnam, Australia, France, Russia and the USA, the competition has a friendly international vibe. Organizers and judges will make a decision on the date of the event 72 hours prior to the start of competition. The decision will be based on weather, wind and swell forecasts. Maximum size, best wind direction and weather conditions will ensure all competitors get to showcase their skills in the biggest and best waves possible. Video of previous event:

The judges will be from different countries and surf outlets, all will have between15-30 thirty years of surfing experience, ensuring expert judging and unbiased results. Our event will attract competitors from Vietnam, Australia, France, Russia and the USA; they will ensure an amazing competition. This Sunrise competition reaches different audience segment and provides fun, entertaining.

The competition is not just about winning. It's about having fun with family and friends, celebrating the surfing lifestyle, the beach and building a community.

 

 


Tourism Activities Shift in Phan Thiet

By: Patrick Gaveau

Tourism Activities Shift in Phan Thiet

activities in phan thietI am often careful when interpreting the feedback received from local actors about the status of their business activities for the season - this year was no different. In November, December and late January, some well known restaurants on the “Muine Strip” rang the bell stating that their business was down substantially, and Santimati restaurant said, “it was down 40%,” at some point. I did wonder if everything mentioned was factually accurate.

To clarify the situation, I picked a panel of chosen owners and managers working in well-known restaurants (international and local), mid-level and high-end shops as well as small and large hotels and resorts in the three to five star category. Following these interviews, visits and discussions, I realised that opinions varied per activity and that the most stable estimations came from hotel and resort professionals.

In terms of markets, most hotels and resorts recorded a steady flow of FIT (Foreign Independent Travellers) Russians originating from a wider range of destinations than ever before. Most resorts also documented growth for the UK, French and Chinese market - the latter being up 400% at some resorts. Most others recorded double digit growth.

activities in phan thietPandanus Resort, who is tracing substantial growth in this market as well.

Apart from Germans, who mainly travel in large groups at a lower price point, Phan Thiet still remains a FIT driven destination. This is good news for the many small businesses on the “Muine Strip”.

Even the Chinese travel individually for the most part, and the documented booking growth is largely channeled by OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Booking.com and Agoda.com. This is good news as it positively affects the bottom line of resorts.

Private small business owners of restaurants, shops and bed & breakfasts, on the other hand, had mixed feelings about their business activities status. Pascal from Jibes recorded good growth in the last three months for his shop and restaurant while Kim Shop reported a 25% decreases in average spending year on year.

To better understand the market situation of these actors (restaurants, shops and activity providers) in Phan Thiet; allow me to list some of the key influencing business activity factors that were reported by many of the interviewed parties.

  1. The number of travellers in Phan Thiet is stable or growing.
  2. Market diversification is increasing.
  3. Behavioral and consumption pattern for each market may differ.
  4. The number of qualitative outlets is on the rise.
  5. The quantitative growth of small outlets out-numbers the increase in demand.
  6. Native Russians tend to spend money at places with Russian speaking staff/owners.
  7. Some Russian travellers do follow instructions given by their travel operators.
  8. Trip Advisor reviews affect the turnover of many travel related businesses.
  9. Travellers are wiser with their shrinking leisure budget.

If small businesses begin to understand how each of the above listed factors can affect their business activities, they may choose to adapt accordingly, adjusting the way they operate in order to tackle challenges and potential business available in their destination.


Kitesurfing Distributors and Shops in Mui Ne

By: Michael Mahe

Shop and Surf!

The development of Mui Ne from a remote fishing village to one of Vietnam’s famous beach destinations is closely linked to the ever-growing kitesurf crowd. There are a few schools and shops of international standard that accommodate kitesurfers who come from around the world to harness the power of the wind in Mui Ne.

KitesurfingThe oldest kitesurfing shop is “Jibes”, owned by Frenchman Pascal Lefebvre, one of the early pioneers of the kitesurfing scene in Mui Ne. Jibes not only offers a choice of kitesurf equipment of the French brand F-One, but also windsurf boards and sails. 

Perhaps the biggest kitesurfing shop in Mui Ne is Kiteboarding Ananda, located at Ananda Resort. This shop has a wide selection of kitesurf equipment and accessories from leading companies such as North Kites, Cabrinha Kites, Mystic harnesses and other travel gear.  Kiteboarding Ananda also has a specialised team that repair kites and boards, something that comes handy with the strong winds and high waves during the high season. Prices here tend to be significantly lower than anywhere else in the world. Thus, many kitesurfers come to Mui Ne without gear and will kit up with new kites and boards at Kiteboarding Ananda.

Rip Curl has a large shop in Mui Ne (near Phan Thiet) as well as Nha Trang. While they sell mostly beach and swimwear, they also have a small selectionKitesurfing of surfboards.

There are smaller kiteboarding shops such as Africa Surf and Bombora, which cater mostly to surfers, and Sailing Club Kite School (former Storm kiteboarding) which sells mostly kiteboarding accessories. 

All in all, should you come to Mui Ne and need a spare part or a new kite or board, you will be in good hands at one of the many kite shops!

Adresses (all on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street):

- Jibes: 90 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.windsurf-vietnam.com

- Kiteboarding Ananda: 8 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.ananda.vn

- Rip Curl Kite School: 103B Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://ripcurl.com.vn

- Africa Surf & Kite Test: 44 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://africa-kiteschool.ru

- Bombora: 68 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.bomboragroup.com

- Sailing Club Kite School (former Storm) : 24 Nguyen Dinh ChieuMui NePhan Thiet, http://www.stormkiteboarding.com


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.


How Windsurfing Came to Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Mui Ne is the most popular destination for water sports in Vietnam. Its consistent winds and geographical location attract ever-increasing, like-minded water sports fans from around the world.

However, Mui Ne was not always known for its wind and water sport activities. Let’s go back to 1995: no kite surfers to be seen, not a single windsurfer spotted planing across the waters of the beautiful, untouched bay of Mui Ne. But in December of that year a young Frenchman arrived with an addiction to windsurfing, conveniently based and working at the Novotel Resort in Phan Thiet less than 15km from Mui Ne Bay.

Pascal Lefebvre was one of the first to experience the potential and untapped wind conditions. We must remember there was not a lot of internet access back then in the local area, and the only people who knew of Mui Ne’s wind were the locals, who had never heard of windsurfing and had absolutely no interest in water/wind-based sports. In fact, for the locals the wind was more of an annoyance rather than something to be enjoyed.

Pascal, however, noticed on his first visits to the bay that the local residents had only really constructed buildings on the other side of the road along the beach. To a keen windsurfer that was obvious evidence of strong wind blowing from the sea to the land. Closer inspection of the wind-battered palm trees only confirmed his suspicions. He recalls having a meeting interrupted on the sixth floor of the Novotel building, windows violently rattling from howling wind at speeds of more than 30 knots.

The only problem for a keen windsurfer like Pascal was that there were no water sports shops, no rental centers and no water sports schools, meaning no way to get his hands on any equipment. That was until Pascal was introduced to Daniel Arnaud.

Daniel had opened a beachside resort in the heart of the bay called Coco Beach (one of only a handful of resorts in Mui Ne at that time) and luckily for Pascal, Daniel had some very basic windsurf equipment. From that moment Pascal could be found spending any free time rigging up equipment at Coco Beach and enjoying the entire bay to himself, a windsurfer’s paradise.

After travelling around Vietnam working for Victoria Resorts, Pascal took on a full-time position as general manager at Victoria Phan Thiet, a perfect location to witness the full force of Mui Ne’s wind. By this time he had managed to buy some second-hand equipment to use himself but always kept an eye open for more windsurf sails and boards. 

He was lucky enough to find a local resort that had imported some windsurf equipment, but due to a lack of knowledge it wasn’t getting used. Pascal was quick to buy everything the resort had and now found himself with enough equipment to run the very first windsurf competition in Mui Ne, if not Vietnam. It was named “The Fun Cup” and with only a handful of amateur riders the focus was on light-hearted enjoyment rather than serious competition. The event, although small, was a great success and added fuel to Pascal’s quest to promote Mui Ne worldwide. He created the very first windsurfing website for Vietnam, www.windsurf-vietnam.com.

On December 16, 2001 Jibe’s windsurf and water sports club was born. Pascal and his wife Phuong had taken the next step by opening the Full Moon Hotel and Jibe’s Beach Club in the heart of the bay. This provided windsurfers from all over the world with a place to stay and a centre to rent equipment. News spread fast about the venture and Mui Ne’s amazing wind conditions, and foreign /media as well as sports and tourism magazines began to take Mui Ne more seriously.

By 2011 Mui Ne was home to the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) World Windsurfing Tour, a widely recognized international event covered by the world’s sporting /media. The KTA (Kite Tour Asia) also held a number of events in Mui Ne and it’s only a matter of time before Mui Ne welcomes the PKRA (Professional Kiteboard Riders Association) events. Jibe’s hosted the 15th Vietnam Windsurf Fun Cup with close to 40 international competitors, including local riders from Vietnam.

Mui Ne has come a long way from the days of a single, dusty road, oxcarts and the odd lone foreign backpacker. It is now firmly on the map as the best water-sport location in Vietnam, and one of the best locations in the whole of Asia, with a vast choice of accommodation, restaurants and nightlife. Kite surfing, windsurfing, classic wave surfing, stand-up paddling and sailing have brought this once sleepy little fishing village to life. In the middle of the high season (November-April) it is not uncommon to see more than 200 kite surfers on the water and sometimes in the air, but I can’t help feel a twinge of nostalgia for the old days when the bay was still a secret jewel in Vietnam’s beautiful coast line.

Author: Adie Casket


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.

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