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Breathless in Ko Lanta!

Breath Holding Competition

Residents lounging by the deluxe pool at the luxurious Rawi Warin Resort and Spa on Koh Lanta last month were treated to the bizarre sight of a select group of enthusiasts, from a variety of countries, who managed to hold their breath underwater for up to six and a half minutes at a time.

After elaborate warm-up and relaxation rituals, the competitors lay face down at the edge of the swimming pool and focused on holding their breaths as long as possible under the watchful eyes of internationally approved judges Richard Wonka (Germany) and Sarah Whitcher (England).

Andaman Freediving Challenge Breathholding CompetitionIt was the second day of the Andaman Freediving Challenge, Thailand’s only annual competition for Freedivers, and followed a day out on the Blue Planet Divers’ boat in which competitors managed to reach depths of between 20 and an astounding 53 metres in the open sea.

What was most striking about this year’s competition was how friendly the competition was throughout the three days and how keen the divers were to help each other out with advice and tips to enable rivals to extend their time underwater.

Freedivers learn how to hold their breath for long periods without the aid of scuba equipment and the annual Koh Lanta competition, organised by Blue Planet Divers, is the only one in Asia to take place outside of Japan.

Eight male and four female divers took part this year, many of them competing for the first time, in six distinct events over three days.

At 52, Italian Andrea Richichi may have been older than the other competitors, but his breath-taking times in all disciplines – including an incredible 53 metre dive from the boat – saw him collect all of the major prizes.

Andrea grew up spear fishing and snorkelling on the island of Sardinia. Amazingly, he has never undertaken any formal courses in Freediving, despite his breath-taking times, including a six minute and 33 second breath-hold in the pool.

“I have never been a scuba diver, but I have always loved being under water. When I grew up, scuba diving wasn’t an option. I have never done any courses, but you really do learn a lot at competitions and you get to meet very good people.”

“I was in Thailand for work this month, but I decided to come to Koh Lanta for this competition. People make friends very quickly at these competitions and I get asked a lot of questions because I have been Freediving for six years and I have taken part in over 25 competitions. This competition has a wonderful atmosphere and it’s in a country that I love!”

He said that world championship Freedivers might not help each other out to the extent that the competitors do on Koh Lanta, but the whole ethos of the Andaman Freediving Challenge is to encourage beginners and intermediates to challenge others (and themselves) in an extremely friendly environment.

Ossien Pekkala, from Finland, was thrilled to reach 30 metres on a single breath. He only took up Freediving four months ago, because he wanted to stay longer under water while snorkelling.

“The longer I can stay underwater, the more fun I can have!”

The women’s competition was won by Jacinta Colvin, from Melbourne, who was inspired to come to Koh Lanta after hearing about last year’s competition from friends in Australia. She was delighted to reach depths of over 30 metres in her first ever competition and managed to hold her breath for just under four minutes in the pool.

“I had never been to Koh Lanta before, I decided to come on a two week holiday, especially for the Andaman Freediving Challenge. It’s been really, really good and really friendly and I feel I have learned so much over the three days. It’s great to get to hang out with other Freedivers and I feel so much more confident now.”

Freediving Competition

One of the competition’s three Thai competitors, Petchrung Sukpong (or Aey), only undertook a Freediving course with Blue Planet Divers two weeks before the competition. She was encouraged to come back and take part by coach Richard Wonka, who told her it would be a great way to make new friends and improve her technique.

Aey works in Marine Conservation in Phuket, and was delighted she had made the short journey back to Koh Lanta for the competition. She was thrilled to reach a depth of 20 metres on a single breath, a personal best, and found that the experience was akin to meditation under water.

“I think Freediving is more relaxing than scuba diving because it is so peaceful and you don’t make any noise underwater, This competition is perfect for the beginner, because it’s so friendly, and I think I’ve learned a lot about Freediving over the three days. I’d never even thought about going into a competition before and now I’m thinking of going on and doing the Advanced Freediving course.”

Aey said that she would definitely be back next year to challenge her new friend, Jacinta, for the Andaman Freediving Challenge title!

Blue Planet Divers on Koh Lanta run regular Freediving courses throughout the diving season. Check out their website, www.blueplanetdivers.net, or telephone +66 (0)75 668 165 for details.

Base Jumping at Dean’s Blue Hole

A film of Guillaume Nery base jumping at Dean’s Blue Hole, filmed on breath hold by Julie Gautier

Dean's Blue Hole BahamasFREE FALL: World champion freediver Guillaume Nery filmed a special dive at Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world.

This sequence is filmed entirely on breath hold by the french champion Julie Gautier. This video is a fiction and an artistic project.

Edited by BLUENERY (c). Music: ARCHIVE – you make me feel.

Enter the 2009 Freediving Competition

Freediving with Monofin

Blue Planet Divers would like to invite Freedivers of all levels (even beginners) to enter the Andaman AIDA Freediving Challenge 2009. The competition is being held on Ko Lanta from 10 Feb-12 Feb 2009.

Freediving Event and Competition Program:

Guillaume Nery8 February:

  • 10:00 – Presentation by Guillaume Nery (World Record Holder in Constant Weight), an Introduction to Freediving presentation and his world record.
  • 11:00 – Monofin Demonstration & Free Trial.

9 February:

  • Freediving Trip to Ko Haa with Guillaume Nery. Constant weight training and Free immersion – Cost = 1,500 THB

Pool Training Session10 February: Opening ceremony of the AIDA Freediving Challenge

  • 08:00 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers office in Saladan
    – Registration and payment for entry fee
    – Transfer to Rawi Warin Resort & Spa
  • 09:00 – Opening Ceremony at Rawi Warin’s pool
    – Preparation and explanation of AIDA competition rules
    – Practise sessions in the pool
  • 12:00 – End of the day

Freediving Sea Competition11 February:

  • 07:30 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers shop
  • 08:00 – Departure to Koh Haa (breakfast served)
  • 10:30 – Deep Sea Competition – Dive site Koh Haa Yai: Constant Weight and Free Immersion
  • 14:00 – Break with Evaluation – Interviews
  • 15:00 – Deep Sea Competition: Constant weight and Free immersion
  • 17:00 – Back to Ko Lanta

Freediving practise in the pool12 February:

  • 08:00 – Meeting at Blue Planet Divers shop
  • 09:00 – Pool Competition – Static and Dynamic
  • 12:00 – Evaluation – Winner announcement – Prizes sponsored by Mares and Rawi Warin Resort & Spa
  • 13:30 – Lunch by the pool – Closing ceremony

Competition Prizes:

Rawi Warin RoomPrizes sponsored by Mares and Rawi Warin Resort & Spa.

Overall Winner – First Prize:

The overall winner will receive 4 night’s accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Rawi Warin Resort & Spa for 2 persons. Breakfast for 2 people is included.

Mares Nemo SportDeep Sea Competition:

  • First Prize – Mares Nemo Computer
  • Second Prize – Mares Razor Pro Fins
  • Third Prize – Free Dive Bag

Pool Competition:

  • First Prize – Mares Mission Watch
  • Second Prize – Mares Razor Pro Fins
  • Third Prize – Free Dive Bag

Participation Fee:

  • 3,500 THB – includes; Hotel Transfers; Open Disciplines; Insurance, Blue Planet Apnea T-shirt, Breakfast, Lunch, Fruit and Soft Drinks

Freediver with Featherstar

Participation Conditions:

  • Each athlete must have a medical certificate prior registration. The certificate can be done by your personal physician or by a specialist in diving.
  • Fees must be paid before the 10th of February 2010 (4,500 THB).
  • If an athlete comes without Freediving equipment, we can provide them with bi-fins, mask, nose clip, belt and wetsuit. The rental cost is 400 baht per day.

To participate it is mandatory to follow the AIDA rules and a safe practice. Please check the AIDA website http://www.aida-international.org/ and click on “Downloads”, then “Documents”, then click for AIDA Competitions and Record Regulations. You can also try this link:

AIDA Judges:

JudgesRichard Wonka – Germany
(Judge level E, AIDA Instructor)

Sarah Whitcher – U.K.
(Judge level E, AIDA Instructor)

Contact Information:

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Blue Planet Divers
Email: blueplanetdivers [at] gmail.com
Tel: +66 (0)75 684165 / +66 (0)813 701 303
Web: www.blueplanetdivers.net

More information can also be found at: http://www.andamanaidafreedivingchallenge.blogspot.com/

Andaman AIDA Freediving Challenge 2009

Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009

The Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 will be held over 3 days from the 10th – 12th February 2009. The event includes a preparation day, a Pool Competition at Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and a Sea Competition at Ko Haa on the Blue Planet Diver’s Boat.

FreediverCompetitors can win:

Open sea competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Nemo sport
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

Pool competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Mission watch
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

1st Prize - 4 nights at Rawi WarinOverall winner:

Guillaume Nery, the World Champion in Constant Weight, will also be our guest host for the event.

Schedule of Events:

  • 10th February: Registration, Pool training, AIDA rules, Seminar
  • 11th February: Open sea competition at Ko Haa (max. depth 60m)
  • 12th February: Pool competition & Closing ceremony, Prizes, Party!

The disciplines will be: CWT, CNF, DYN, DNF, FIM, STA.

Freediver with Featherstar

This will be the second Freediving Competition hosted by Blue Planet Divers in Ko Lanta. Due to the success of last year’s competition, they have secured sponsorship from MARES, Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The competition is also fully recognised by AIDA, the Worldwide Federation for breath-hold diving, and competitors can use points won at the Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 towards their World Rankings.

This event is open to all and we welcome new freedivers to this competition.

Freediver with Lionfish

Contact Information:

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Blue Planet Divers
Email: blueplanetdivers [at] gmail.com
Tel: +66 (0)75 684165 / +66 (0)813 701 303
Web: www.blueplanetdivers.net

More information can also be found at: http://www.andamanaidafreedivingchallenge.blogspot.com/