Archive for November, 2012

New PADI OWSI Teaches First Official Course

Friday, November 30th, 2012 @ 14:46 News, Professional Diving Internships

Bernard, right, with his first 'real-world' DSD student that he qualified all by himself recently.

One of Downbelow’s Professional Scuba Diving Interns, Bernard Henry, just received his “In Status” confirmation from PADI.

Bernard is one of our recent batch of very successful IDC Candidates, all of whom aces their Instructor Exams.

As a qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Diver who is now officially confirmed, Bernard celebrated by teaching his first “real” PADI Discover Scuba Diving program at Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre.

After completing his first course, Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director Richard was there to wish him luck.

“Great job, mate,” said Richard, “nice to see you teaching in the real world after all your hard work.”

Whilst going solo for his first teaching gig, Downbelow’s Go Pro team provided support and close supervision from the sidelines.

Thanks to Downbelow’s top quality training, Bernard’s effort and relentless skills practice, he handled it like the professional scuba instructor that he is.

Nitrox Speciality Instructor for Diving Usukan Bay Wrecks

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 @ 10:21 Courses, Dive Sites, News, Professional Diving Internships, Speciality Instructor

Resident PADI Course Director Ricard Swann (far right) conducting the Nitrox Speciality Instructor course yesterday, before heading off today for some Usukan Bay Wreck diving.

Our recently minted PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors and PADI IDC Staff Instructors gather around Richard yesterday for some fun while acquiring their next speciality qualification.

Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director, Richard, took the crew under his wing for the Nitrox Speciality Instructor Course at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island in Kota Kinabalu.

In a nutshell, diving with Enriched Air Nitrox EANx allows you to enjoy more time diving.

There are special considerations when it comes to diving with Nitrox, which is why instructors are needed to teach students the ins and outs about it. That is what our eager instructors were up to yesterday.

To demonstrate the specific skills required from a Nitrox Speciality instructor, the crew head out to the Japanese WWII Wrecks in Usukan Bay today.

The Usukan Bay Wrecks in Sabah, Malaysia are 3 Japanese ships that were sunk by an American submarine during World War 2, on 1 October 1944. The 3 wrecks, the Rice Bowl Wreck, the Upside Down Wreck and the Usukan Wreck, lie at varying depths between 25m – 40m.

This makes Nitrox the perfect choice, because combined with their fascinating history and the beauty that has flourished around them, you want to spend as much time as possible diving these wrecks.

We wish our Nitrox Speciality Instructor students best of luck and look forward to seeing the photos from their dive.

Illegally Dumped Net Removed from the TAR Park

Monday, November 26th, 2012 @ 17:10 News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

Downbelow's rather large net removal team.

Over the weekend our resident PADI Course Director Richard decided to check out an old dive site that he has not visited for more than five years.

Accompanied by PADI IDC Staff Instructor Bob, the two descended, only to find a huge net entangled on the reef.

Downbelow is passionate about conservation, so immediately the boys got to work. After releasing a large stonefish and a grouper they returned to the Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island to gather a team to return and remove the menace for good.

By chance, 4 Sabah Parks staff were participating in a PADI Rescue Diver course with Downbelow, so they were only too happy to give their time and join the mission.

Within moments Richard has rustle up Downbelow staff and international & Local Go Pro Interns to also assist with the 100+ metre long net.

After Richard thorough briefed the team on safety and net removal techniques, they set off on the illegally dumped net crusade. The rest, plus the net, is history.

The reef can breathe once more !

Scuba Instructor Success at Downbelow in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Friday, November 23rd, 2012 @ 11:27 IDC, News, Professional Diving Internships

The 6 next PADI OWSI in the middle, PADI Examiner Robert Scammell next to resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann on the right and PADI IDC Staff Instructor Sam far left.

Downbelow’s November PADI Instructor Exam wrapped up yesterday with success all around for our candidates and 6 new PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors, released into the wild.

“Our awesome team smashed the PADI IE in Kota Kinabalu,” said Downbelow’s beaming resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann after the results came in.

Thanks to Downbelow’s Go Pro Team’s thorough preparation of the candidates during their Instructor Development Course in Sabah, Malaysia, there were no surprises for them during the IE.

Downbelow’s dedicated PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre is specifically equipped for Instructor Development and because we dive every day, our IDC candidates have as much opportunity as they need to practice their skills until it literally becomes second nature.

This showed during the Instructor Exam, when beaming with confidence, the candidates effortlessly handled everything PADI Examiner Robert Scammell tested them on.

The PADI IDC Dive Centre you choose is vital to ensure all your hard work and investment in your future pays off.

Downbelow’s Instructor Development in Sabah, Malaysia has a 100% success rate and we adhere to high quality standards, which produces top-flight PADI professionals.

Find out more about when our next PADI IDC is taking place and how you can join.

If you’re serious about a quality education for your professional diving career, visit us in Kota Kinabalu or drop us an email and let’s talk about how you too can Go Pro with Downbelow.

Halfway Through the IE and Looking Good

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 @ 17:48 Courses, IDC, News

This morning Downbelow's IDC candidates were ready for the Instructor Exam

Downbelow’s Instructor Development Course wrapped up yesterday, leaving our candidates about as prepared as they ever will be for today’s PADI Instructor Examination.

This morning there were smiles and a few butterflies and it was hard to tell who was more confident; the candidates, the IDC Staff Instructors or resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann.

PADI Examiner, Robert Scammell, was ready and waiting to test the mettle of Downbelow’s candidates and put them through their paces.

Ollie and Sam, freshly minted IDC Staff Instructors, sat in on the orientation to gain valuable experience and enjoy the candidates pretending to be nervous.

Turns out the candidates had every reason to be confident as after the whole day in the Instructor Exam, they emerged one after the other with big, wide grins.

With day one of the Kota Kinabalu PADI Instructor Examination in the bag, Downbelow is 6 for 6 with a complete pass rate.

Tomorrow the candidates head to the water to show how clever they are when not sitting down.

Good luck candidates!

Get Certified Before Feb 2013 And Win!

Monday, November 19th, 2012 @ 08:52 News, Promotions

PADI Dive to Win Competition
How would you like to win a Go Pro 3 camera or an iPad 2? Or better yet, a livaboard diving trip aboard a member of the Aggressor Fleet? Here’s your chance.

Whether you’re a currently uncertified diver or an already qualified diver, you can win a GoPro Hero 3 (Silver) camera or an iPad2. At the very least you’ll get a spiffy PADI Hat.

Uncertified Divers – Qualify

Contact Downbelow or drop in at our offices in KK Times Square, and sign up to for our PADI Open Water Scuba Diver course to be completed on or before 31 January.

Once you’re qualified, go to the Dive & Win Competition site and share why you became a diver.

For your effort, PADI will send you that spiffy PADI hat. As a bonus, you’ll also be entered into the weekly draw for a chance to win the GoPro Hero 3 camera or an iPad 2.

Already Certified Divers – Refer

Any diver that is already certified can visit the competition page and encourage an uncertified friend to sign up with Downbelow and get qualified.

Then, when they qualify, they follow the instructions for Uncertified Divers and enter your details as the person who referred them.

PADI will then send them 2 spiffy PADI hats, one of which your newly qualified friend will hopefully share with you :)

Both of you will be entered into the weekly draw to stand a chance to win the GoPro Hero 3 camera or iPad 2.

But wait, there’s more…

In both cases above, Uncertified Diver and their Referrer will further be entered into the grand draw, which puts you in line to win a diving trip aboard any one of the Agressor Fleet of liveaboards.

A pretty sweet deal!

So get in touch, or tell your non-diver friends to contact Downbelow and let’s get you qualified before 31 January AND in line to win some awesome prizes. How about that spiffy hat?

Dive and Win Stuff. Lots of Stuff.

Kinabalu International School Enjoys KK Dive Club

Friday, November 16th, 2012 @ 09:50 KK Dive Club, News

Mr. Pearson (far right) and members of the KIS Dive Club, enjoying KK Dive Club privileges at Downbelow's dive centre on Gaya island

It was great to see students from the Kinabalu International School at Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island this weekend.

Downbelow has been running the KK Dive Club for quite a while and it’s really gained momentum amongst KK’s scuba divers.

The club, aimed specifically at Sabah’s residents, encourages, at very competitive prices, the enjoyment of the resources Kota Kinabalu is so lucky to have right on the city’s doorstep.

At the Kinabalu International School (KIS) they have their own in-house version of the dive club catering specifically to KIS students and teachers.

Headed by Mr. Gareth Pearson, KIS teacher, avid diver and instructor himself, he enthusiastically encourages club members to discover the underwater word through scuba and improve their diving through dive courses.

From the group that visited us this weekend, 4 students completed their PADI Open Water Scuba Diving qualifications.

An additional 5 students completed their PADI Advanced Open Water courses, which was conducted by Mr. Pearson himself.

We look forward to the KIS students returning to us again soon to take advantage of their shiny new qualifications with a whole lot of diving.

If you live in Kota Kinabalu or Sabah and would like get out more often to enjoy the treasures of Kota Kinabalu’s scuba scene, get in touch with us and join our KK Dive Club.

If you are attached to the Kinabalu International School, get in touch with Mr. Pearson directly.

Outstanding Contribution to Instructor Development

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 @ 09:24 IDC, News

PADI Region Manager Asia Pacific, Johnny Chew, giving the award to Downbelow Directors Richard & Joanne Swann

Downbelow received an award from PADI Asia Pacific today for “Recognition Of Outstanding Contribution To Instructor Development”.

Downbelow’s Managing Director Richard Swann (PADI CD) and Marketing Director Joanne Swann (PADI MI), were delighted when Johnny Chew (PADI AP Regional Manager) dropped in to our KK Times Square head offices in Kota Kinabalu to present the surprise award.

Johnny also took the opportunity to visit our current IDC & IDC Staff candidates in the classroom, and have a stroll around our dive shop, freely sharing his wealth of knowledge and advice.

Thanks must go to our entire Go Pro Team and staff, especially the amazing support from our head office who do such a great job providing information to prospective candidates.

We would also like to thank PADI Asia Pacific without whose support in our region, Instructor Development would not be possible.

We have it: Final Finathon Collection Total

Monday, November 12th, 2012 @ 11:32 News, Project AWARE

We did it! Thanks to everybody for helping us raise this mammoth contributor for Project AWARE's fight against shark finning.


Asia’s first Finathon, held by Downbelow last weekend, has been written in the annals of history, but it took us a little longer to tally the numbers related to the donations and funds raised.

Thanks to the outstanding support of our Finathon participants and the generous sponsors who showed that they care about sharks, Downbelow is delighted to report that the final amount raised is a whopping RM 15,079.10!

At today’s exchange rates that’s equal to AU$ 4,734.64 and US$ 4,925.39.

As promised, Downbelow is giving 100% – be it from donations, sponsorships or merchandise sales – to the Project AWARE Foundation, which will enable them to continue fighting for legislation to control shark finning.

We once again thank everybody who participated in this worthwhile event. You have made a big difference!

Apart from the funds, we also raised a lot of awareness for the cause through newspaper coverage, social media and blogs, and even the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture noticed.

We look forward to the next Finathon and hope to have an even bigger number of participants and raise even more awareness and funds.

Together we are making a difference!


Downbelow’s Travel Managers Take on Mt. Kinabalu

Friday, November 9th, 2012 @ 17:43 Climb Mt Kinabalu, News

Alice in the foreground is climbing Mt. K for 2nd time. Carol, in the back, is doing it for the 1st time.

You may able to tell from the picture above that Alice and Carol, Downbelow’s Travel Centre Managers, have an exciting weekend planned.

On Sunday the two set off to Kinabalu Park, where they will attempt to summit mighty Mt. Kinabalu. Adding to the excitement is the fact that Carol has never climbed Mt. Kinabalu before. Alice will be climbing for the 2nd time.

Either way, it’s a climb with a twist for both of them, as not only will they be summiting Mt. Kinabalu, but they will also doing it via ferrata, which is the scenic, chain-bridge and climbing-gear way of getting to the top.

Tough Cookies that they are, they’ve chosen the Low’s Peak Circuit, which is via ferrata’s most challenging route.

We’re hoping for good weather, but regardless of rain or shine, it will be cold where they’ll overnight at Laban Rata.

That’s why they’re all suited up.  From our Dive & Adventure Shop‘s outdoor section, they’ve picked up the right apparel to keep them toasty and dry, even when Mt. Kinabalu’s notorious cold comes knocking on their door.

Alice gets cold easily (our air-con is not that cold), so she’s chosen the German engineered, women’s Vaude Infinity jacket in mauve (which apparently is a colour). It’s a light-weight jacket rated for high-activity levels and features 3-layer eVent fabric that will keep her warm, but dry, even when she’s on the toughest part of the mountain.

Carol chose the fluffy, women’s Vaude Radium fleece jacket, made from 200 weight fleece, which zips up right to the top for a weather protective shell. It’s light-weight, so it’s easy to wear or carry up for protection during the cold night that awaits at Laban Rata.

We wish our intrepid managers a happy and safe adventure and look forward to lots of pictures of their journey and will duly report on it.

If you want to have a few adventures of your own, Mt. Kinabalu or otherwise, or fancy some of the gear we have in our shop, why not drop by our office in KK Times Square for a look and a chat?