Photo © Margje Tempelaars
Kaori Takahashi has set for objective to offer her Yacht Club next year, her Laser Radial sail from the Olympics. One problem, the yacht club has been destroyed by the tsunami, her boat as well, actually all the boats, equipment, infrastructure...
The Iwaki Sun Marina is one of many sailing harbours that have been wiped out from the Japan Eastern cost. During the last ISAF Conference, Mr. Kawano, President of the Japan Sailing Federation has addressed the ISAF Council: “East Japan has no more yacht clubs, no more boats, no more equipment. Everything has to be rebuilt, all the boats have to be purchased.”
The Japanese sailors have continued attending international events, in Hyères and now in Medemblik with strong teams. Kaori Takahashi competing in the Delta Lloyd Regatta in the Laser radial comes from Iwakei, a village 20 km from the coast hit by the giant wave. “We felt the earthquake, first a small shake, then the house was like a washing machine, everything was smashed. Luckily we were not on the coast but my brother and I had to leave our house because of the threat of the nuclear plant.”
“The problem now faced by the Japanese sailing community is to rebuild clubs and fleets”, explains Aiko Saito, Laser Radial coach, “All the international funds go to other priorities such as the industries, rebuilding houses, schools, roads...we need to urgently raise money to buy equipment and build new infrastructure for sailing.” The Japanese Sailing Federation is launching an appeal among the international sailing community to raise funds around the motto: Gambare!
In Medemblik, all the Japanese boats and coach boats are displaying a Blue and red sticker with this message of hope. “Gambare can be translated as “Keep going” or “Don't give up” says Aiko Saito. “The Japanese Federation will sell the stickers in Weymouth and Kiel for 20 euros each.”
As a sign of solidarity, the Dutch Sailing Federation has announced today in Medemblik that they will buy the first 25 “Gambare” stickers for all their Delta Lloyd team boats, coach boats and talent squads.
“Sailing family is ONE and when you see what happened in Japan it is more than normal to support this initiative” declared , Royal Netherland Yachting Union Council member, Rob Franken.”
Kaori Takahashi motivation to represent her country and her Yacht Club at the London Olympics is a further step forward for the future of Eastern Japan.