Unique Experiences of a Japanese Snipe Sailor

When we sail, most of us sailors don’t realize how different the experience can be depending on where we sail. Our world is full of different cultures, traditions and sailing routes that make our experiences unique. This time we take you on a fascinating sailing trip from Japan to Europe.

Haruna Egawa, a passionate snipe sailor from Japan, shares an incredible experience. He competed in two notable snipe competitions in Europe: the Northwest Championship in the United Kingdom and the Marlin Spike Rum Cup in Antwerp, Belgium. His journey opens a window into the intriguing contrasts and parallels between traveling in Japan and Europe.

Haruna’s journey is not only a story of sailing, but also a story of hospitality, friendship and cultural discovery. Find out how age limits are broken in European sailing clubs, how the sailing club’s bar plays an important role in the social life of sailors and how the European sailing community is open to sailors from other continents.

If you’re interested in sailing, culture or reading a fascinating personal story, don’t miss Haruna’s experiences. Dive into his fascinating story and discover the unique differences between sailing in Europe and Japan.

Posted by Haruna Egawa on May 31, 2023

During my trip to Europe in 2022 I entered two snipe competitions: the North West Championship at UK Budworth Sailing Club and the Marlin Spike Rum Cup in Galkenweil, Antwerp, Belgium. The trip to Europe was fascinating and I wanted to explore some of the snipe sail differences I discoveredShare e and experience between Japan and Europe.

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Before starting my trip I contacted SCIRA Commodore Zbi Rakocy to ask if there was anyone in the UK he could recommend I contact and see if I could travel on the Snipe. He kindly put me in touch with Sue Roberts, SCIRA Treasurer and UK Membership Secretary. I would not have had such a great experience without his help, so thanks to Commodore Ragosi.

I would like to express my gratitude to Sue Roberts and her family for their hospitality and support throughout my journey. Sue arranged positions that allowed me to participate in two snipe regattas. I would also like to thank Patrick Sarsfield (ENG) and Yannick Lawmans (BEL) for letting me travel, especially as they have never met me before! I would like to thank all the people I met at the regattas, the race team members and everyone who contributed to such a great experience. The snipe sailing I did in Europe was very different from what I did in Japan and here are some of the main differences I noticed:

Sailing in Europe is enjoyed by people of all agesn

Like other sports clubs, many sailing clubs are locally organized and run by volunteers. People of all ages have the opportunity to travel, sometimes with family, sometimes with a partner or friends. At Budworth Sailing Club, Roland Antonelli raced and celebrated his 90th birthday at the same time! This is unusual in Japan because most Japanese SCIRA members are part of a university group, and upon graduation, many of them do not travel further.

Personally, given the number of SCIRA members in Japan, I think snipe sailing is very inaccessible outside of college clubs. We may have a stereotype that sailing is physically taxing for older people, but this time I realized that snipe sailing is a sport that can be enjoyed even in old age.

Every sailing club or has a bar!

In Europe you might not think having a bar in a clubhouse is special, but in Japan it is. As mentioned earlier, most sailing clubs in Japan are run by universities and do not have facilities such as bars.

I found that the sailing club had a place like bars or restaurants where the sailors could socialize during the sailing races. This tight-knit community creates long-lasting friendships both locally and when you visit the clubs.

Everyone talks about race day and shares stories over drinks and dinner – it makes people want to come back because they had a great time on and off the water. I made many new friends through the time I spent with them after sailing. Some club members encouraged me to try different Belgian beers and local food.

If you come to Japan to participate in the regatta, we can go to an izakaya (pub) instead. You’ll still have a good time, but it’ll be a little different.

Open to sailors from other continents

Sailors from Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, England, France and Norway participated in the Marlin Spike Rum Cup in Kalkenweil, Antwerp. I heard participants switch languages ​​constantly; Sometimes in English, sometimes in Flemish or French, depending on who they’re talking to. For me, even though I was the only Japanese, I felt very comfortable. I felt a part of the event as there were many foreign visitors – I was another foreign sniper sailor who was very welcome.

In Japan, such contact with snipe sailors from abroad is rare, except when we hold major regattas such as World Championships, WHA or Masters events. At the Olympic level, sailors are usually confined to their camps and have little contact.

Snipe sailing is very unique. It’s very social class and a big family, which I’ve experienced in both England and Belgium. In Japan, we are somewhat limited by geography and financial issues; Many Japanese snipe sailors were students who limited their ability to sail.

I amI was very fortunate to travel to Europe and I hope that one day it will be easier for Japanese students to travel, have great experiences and make friends with other snipe sailors around the world like I did.

Source: snipe.org & SnipeToday

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