Boats ready for Sunday’s Sabani Sailing Race

Sailing a traditional narrow Okinawan sabani is a tricky business, especially as it has no keel.

The 4th Nanjo Mayor’s Cup Sabani Sailing Race is set for Sunday, with ceremonies, games, races, Sabani rides, a community beach cleaning and a Haarii Tournament.

The festivities are taking place on Ou Island in Tamagusuku, Nanjo City.  The entire day is free, and the organizers are inviting all Okinawa to attend.  Opening ceremonies take place at 10 a.m., followed by a series of races, including a Round-Ou Island twice round trip, a distance of about 12 kilometers.  The race calls for six paddlers and one helmsman per team; the key is that each team brings its own Sabani.

The race course takes the sailors twice around Oujima.

The key to the race is a portion of the course where paddlers cannot paddle; instead, they must rely on the wind.  Some who’ve navigated the race course before call the wind the most important tool of the day.

Nanjo City officials and the Executive Committee describe the Mayor’s Cup Sabani Sailing Race and affiliated activities of the day as an opportunity to present the historical side of the Sabani, Okinawa’s traditional boat.  There will be explanations of how the boats are built, how to ride them, and emphasis on teamwork and mental strength.

The beach cleaning takes place at 12:30 p.m., and includes an opportunity to apply for a Sabani ride.  Sabani rides will be offered starting at 1 p.m., setting the stage for the 2 p.m. Haarii Tournament.  Closing ceremonies and awards presentations get under way at 3:30 p.m.