Review of PADI Sidemount Diver Course with Bans Technical Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Ian Gardner recently completed the PADI Sidemount Diver course with Bans Technical Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand.  His positive and interesting review follows…

When I first heard of sidemount I can honestly say now, that I had some misconceptions. I thought the entire philosophy was purely for the serious cave enthusiast. Turns out I was wrong.

On the sunny tropical island of Koh Tao, I met with Craig Werger, PADI Sidemount Instructor from Ban’s Technical Diving, to undertake my course.  In literally the first sentence Craig dispelled my fears and took me on the first step of learning a great new way to dive.

I undertook the PADI Recreational Sidemount Diver course.  This course is aimed at people who want to have a longer dive, without the hassle of a twin set and of course with that all- important aspect of improved trim. Under Craig’s careful instruction I learnt initially the theoretical aspects and was, very soon after, adjusting and setting up my own razor side mount system to ensure correct fitting and the knowledge of how to don and doff, what can be a weird looking bit of gear.  And then into the water…

Underwater all I could think was – Wow! The cylinder placement, the trim and overall comfort of the sidemount system was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Craig quickly had us undertaking our skills for our confined water session to ensure we had mastered all that he demonstrated. At times this can be a frustrating experience with such a different configuration, especially when your instructor can break down such skills so that it looks simple and effortless.  Of course I managed to look like a complete Gumby, but with Craig’s guidance and patience, I could feel myself improve with every move and my confidence grew.

The following days saw the completion of four training dives. With each dive I fell that little bit more in love with the sidemount system.  One of the things that really impressed me was that for all our training dives we ensured that we took our team diving ethos into the water. This was a fantastic experience for me, as I learnt the importance of working together to achieve our objective.  The result is a significant shift in the way I see myself diving with my buddy in the future.

As part of the sidemount diver course, Craig put a lot of emphasis on improving our buoyancy control. We were taught various different kicks such as the back kick, side kick and helicopter. This was used to control our buoyancy to “almost” perfection.  What I previously thought I knew about control, trim and buoyancy has been completely changed thanks to the PADI Sidemount Diver course. I cannot recommend this course more highly, or for that matter my instructor.

Thanks to Craig and the team at Ban’s for making it happen.

Ian Gardner

IDC Staff Instructor

Tec Rec Deep Instructor

PADI Recreational Sidemount Diver

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