The 2023 Japanese Friendship Games was hosted by the Wakayama Sailing Federation with the support of the Japan Junior Yacht Club Union (JJYU). It was held at the Wakayama Sailing Center in the historic and beautiful Wakaura Bay from the 21st-23rd of July.
The sailors came from sailing clubs all over Japan as well as teams from Australia and New Zealand. Sailing in ILCA 4 and Optimist Open and Green classes. The three sailors representing New Zealand were Amber Hughes, Philippa Wiltshire and Dahlia Fyfe, all competing in the Optimist Open fleet. I supported in the team leader role.
Due to the regatta being held at the end of our school holidays. The sailors and their families enjoyed a few days sightseeing in Japan on their way from Tokyo to Wakayama. A first for us all and such a great country to experience.
The first day of the regatta was spent rigging and getting accustomed to our charter boats with a few hours of practice racing.
The regatta opening ceremony was held after the training session. At the Wakayama sailing club. This was a mix of very formal with such dignitaries as the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture and the Mayer of Wakayama city accompanied by their bodyguards, welcoming the sailors and opening the regatta. Halfway through the formal proceedings there was a break for the kids to all mingle and meet each other. We didn’t realise but they all bring small gifts to give to each other, which was a lovely way to break the ice and show friendship.
Following the formalities, a casual Japanese dinner was provided and time for the sailors and parents to socialise. Both days of the regatta sailing was delayed waiting for the sea breeze to come in in around 10.30am. With the hot days there was very little pressure in the breeze and our sailors struggled against light opposition. Sailing in 35oC-40oC conditions was another new experience for our sailors.
Day 1 There were 5 races. Amber and Philippa finished mid fleet with (22,23,30,17,13) & (15, 18,39,22,17). Dahlia did well coming mid of the girls with (37,21,34,16,30). Day 2 Again the sailing was delayed waiting for the seabreeze. The breeze came up quickly and they had only two races. Amber (33, 20), Philippa (26, 21) and Dahlia (25, 33).
The girls as the New Zealand team, won the Regatta Sportsmanship Award and International Team Trophy, for the best team overall on points. Individually Philippa won Silver and Amber Bronze in the International Sailors category. Overall Philippa was 21st (5th Girl), Amber 23rd (6th Girl) and Dahlia 30th (12th Girl).
The experience for our sailors to sail in a new place against some of Japan’s best sailors was something they will never forget. The friends they made and the chance to experience a very different culture was amazing. They have all come back incredibly motivated to work hard at their sailing, to see what other amazing places it can take them. Thank you to the other families that made the experience truly memorable and enjoyable.
Margaret Goodfellow (Team Leader)