A Mui Ne-based school has changed the face of sailing in Vietnam. Words by Harry Hodge. Published on The Word HCMC Magazine.
What started as a marine conservation project, sourcing alternatives to overfishing for fishermen, has become a boon for the nation’s amateur sailors.
Sail-trained fishermen now run the watersports out of Manta, Vietnam’s first and only sailing school, which is located in Mui Ne. They teach watersports survival skills and climate change reduction, for a range of local and international groups. Clients of the sailing school help sustain the alternative livelihoods for fishermen in watersports, by participating to learn watersports survival skills, allowing them to start a new career path.
The school was brought to the attention of Vietnamese sports officials and in turn to the International Sailing Federation, with International Olympic Committee funding provided for the training of coaches, athletes and managers. Development was fast, and Manta’s first sailing manager now coaches the Vietnam team in Danang.
“Based on these pilot projects, the Vietnam Olympic Committee has asked for help to kick-start watersports for Vietnam,” says Julia Shaw, National Sailing Manager of the Vietnam Canoeing, Rowing and Sailing Federation.
“With Manta’s current sailing manager, who has been with Manta since the start, we train a range of people including groups of up to 60 international school kids in a morning.”
The group has been involved in marine sports activities since 2008, taking Vietnam’s top windsurfers to Auckland in a bid to gather world rankings to qualify Vietnam for the Beijing Olympics. Later that year, fishermen were trained in specialised sailing skills in the Con Dao archipelago, with young amateur sailors following soon after.
Sail and navigation training took place in Halong Bay after that, as well as the production of a yachtmasters’ book in Vietnamese and English.
Other watersports at Manta include windsurfing, Sup sailing and surfing on a smaller scale, plus there is collaboration with other groups in the bay for kiteboarding as well. Manta connected Vietnam’s sailing federation (VCRSF) with Kiteboard Tour Asia to support kiteboarding in the region.
The school’s training programmes are individually tailored for each client following guidelines from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), Federation Francaise de Voile (FFV) and Royal Yachting Association (RYA).
Manta works in collaboration with Vietnam’s Olympic Committee, the National Sports University in Ho Chi Minh City and local schools to promote human and environmental health by encouraging people to experience the joy of sailing.
The sailing school offers group rates as well as organised lessons for school groups.