Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Japan's National Sailing Team

Japan's 470 class national sailing team winters on Zamami each year from December-February/March.  Apparently this is one of the best places in the world for winter sailing because the air and water temperatures are warm enough that the sailors can get in a six-hour practice day without freezing.  Also, we have very strong winds and the formation of the island chain means that the sailors can get practice outside on the big waves or inside with varying wind patterns and currents.

I have an interesting relationship with these sailors.  For the last five winters I have passed them on the road, in the dark, at 6:30am while I'm running home and they are walking out to an observatory to do their morning stretches.  So for five winters we say good morning every morning, but never have we had a real conversation.

But I decided they would make a great subject for the photo project I'm doing so I met them two weeks ago and organized a chance to tag along last weekend.  There are two male and two female sailors and they are all very humble and very nice.  We had a great time talking, in no small part because I was awed to be conversing with two people (the women) who are attending the London 2012 Olympics.  The men are hoping to qualify next month at the World Championships in Spain.

Here are some pictures from the first day:

 [がんばろうNIPPON has become a post-tsunami meme that means "Let's Go Japan!"]

 [before and after each sail, the sailors take a few measurements of the mast and the guy-wires]

[I'm really hoping he makes the Olympics so I can brag about him being my Facebook friend.]

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