Sen Yamaoka reporting for the O’pen Skiff from the land of the rising sun. Not much sunshine this year, with Covid problems and restrictions, but we have managed to hold our National Championships as planned, at the Windward Sailing Club in Nishinomiya City (on the southern coast of the main island, between Kobe and Osaka) from the 19th to 22nd September just gone.

O’pen Skiff is slowly but surely taking hold here, but we still only run one category of championships for now, U17. There are more boats on the water every year, but this year we had to think carefully about whether to run the event at all, in view of Covid. But in the end, we decided to go ahead, with reduced numbers of competitors to be able to ensure safe-distancing and respect for the situation.

Only 11 boats were allowed to enter (compared to 25 last year), but the organisation was as thorough and official as you would expect for much bigger fleets. We managed to run 24 very varied races over the four days of competition, including triangles, slalom, capsize, standing, and adventure, a true test of stamina for everyone. Big thanks to the race committee, all experienced sailors themselves, and who enjoyed the varied O’pen Skiff format.

Competitors came from near and far, Hokkaido, Enoshima, Shimizu and Nishinomiya itself, to contest the title of Japanese National Champion. In previous years we have welcomed racers from other countries (notably Australia) but that was not really possible this time. We are always happy to welcome young skippers from anywhere to our events, let’s hope we can do that again soon.

The most important news is to tell you that our 2020 Japanese O’pen Skiff National Champion is, for the second year running, a girl. Congratulations to Nao Kashiwagi, a deserving champion, and a great example of girl power. Our Japanese boys are going to have to concentrate more and try harder!