When we’re sailing, most of the sailors among us don’t realize how different the experience can be depending on where we’re sailing. Our world is full of diverse cultures, traditions and ways of sailing that make our experiences unique. This time we take you on a wonderful sailing trip from Japan to Europe.
Haruna Egawa, an avid Snipe sailor from Japan, has an amazing experience to share. She has competed in two notable Snipe events in Europe: the North West Championships in the UK and the Marlin Spike Rum Cup in Antwerp, Belgium. Her voyage opens a window into the interesting contrasts and similarities between sailing in Japan and Europe.
Haruna’s Journey is not just a story of sailing, but also of hospitality, friendship, and cultural discovery. Find out how age limits are being crossed in European sailing clubs, how the sailing club bar plays a central role in the social lives of sailors and how open the European sailing community is to sailors from other continents.
If you are interested in sailing, culture, or just reading a captivating personal story, don’t miss Haruna Experiences. Dive into its fascinating story and discover the unique differences between sailing in Europe and Japan.
By Haruna Igawa, May 31, 2023
During my 2022 trip to Europe, I competed in two Snipe events: the North West Championships at Budworth Sailing Club, UK, and the Marlin Spike Rum Cup at Galgenweel in Antwerp, Belgium. The trip to Europe was great and I’d like to find out some of the Snipe’s sailing variations that I discoveredShare mail and experience between Japan and Europe.
Before starting my voyage, I contacted SCIRA Commodore Zbi Rakocy to ask if there was anyone in the UK he could recommend to contact and see if I could sail the Snipe. He put me in touch with Sue Roberts, Treasurer of SCIRA and Minister for Membership in the UK. I could not have had such a great experience without his help, so thank you Commodore Rakosi.
I would like to express my gratitude to Sue Roberts and her family for their hospitality and support throughout my trip. Sue arranged for me to take part in the two regattas. I would like to thank Patrick Sarsfield (UK) and Yannick Le Mans (Belgium) for letting me set sail, especially since they had never met me before! I also want to thank all the people I met at the regattas, including members of the racing committee and everyone who contributed to this wonderful experience. The snipe sailing I did in Europe is very different from the one I did in Japan and here are some of the main differences I noticed:
Europe enjoys sailing of all agesn
As with other sports clubs, many sailing clubs are locally organized and run by volunteers. People of all ages enjoy the opportunity to go sailing, sometimes with family, sometimes with a partner or friends. At Budworth Sailing Club, Roland Antonelli took part in the competition and celebrated his 90th birthday at the same time! This is unusual in Japan because most Japanese SCIRA members are part of an undergraduate team, and once they graduate, many don’t sail any further.
Personally, given the huge number of SCIRA members in Japan, I think it’s a shame that Snipe Sailing can’t be accessed outside of college clubs. Maybe we have a stereotype that sailing is too physically taxing for the elderly, but this time I realized that Snipe sailing is basically a sport that can be enjoyed even in old age.
Every sailing club or pub!
In Europe, you might not think it’s special to have a club bar, but in Japan it is. As mentioned earlier, most sailing clubs in Japan are run by universities and do not own facilities such as bars.
I have found that having a venue such as bars or restaurants in a sailing club allows sailors to socialize during a sailing race. This close-knit community makes long lasting friendships both locally and when you visit the clubs.
Everyone talks about race day and swaps stories about drinks and dinner – it makes people want to come back because they had such a good time in and out of the water. I made many new friends thanks to the time I spent with them after sailing. Some club members even encouraged me to try different Belgian beers and local dishes.
If you come to Japan for the regatta, we can go to an Izakaya (pub) instead. You’ll still have a really good time, but it’ll be a little different.
Open to sailors from other continents
At the Marlin Spike Rum Cup on the Galgenweel in Antwerp, there were sailors from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the UK, France and even Norway. I heard the participants constantly switch languages. Sometimes in English, sometimes in Flemish, or French, depending on who they’re talking to. For me, even though I was the only Japanese present, it felt very comfortable. There were so many foreign visitors that I really felt part of the action – I was another foreign sailor from Snipe and was made very welcome.
In Japan, this kind of interaction with visiting Snipe sailors from abroad is rare, except when we host major regattas such as the World Championships or WHA or Masters events. At the Olympic level, sailors usually stay inside their camps and there is less interaction.
Snipe’s sailing seems to be quite unique. It’s a very social class and one big family as I’ve lived in both the UK and Belgium. In Japan, we are limited in part by geography and financial issues. Many of Snipe’s Japanese sailors are students which limits their ability to travel.
II was very fortunate to be able to travel to Europe and I really hope that one day it will be easier for Japanese students to travel, have great experiences, and befriend other Snipe sailors around the world, the same way I did.
Source: snipe.org & SnipeToday
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