Japan’s oldest yacht race runs on July 4th
Pristine waters around Okinawa are a prime playing ground for any yachtsman, and the fourth of July weekend has for them a special significance as it’s the date of the 38th annual Zamami Yacht Race.
The race has the distinction of being the longest running yacht race in all of Japan having been run every year for the past 37 years, and now being organized for the 38th time. The racecourse starts off Ginowan Marina and runs a 40-kilometer stretch to Zamami Port.
The yachts run the race divided in two groups with Class II boats taking off at 8:30 a.m. followed by the larger and faster Class I yachts at 9 a.m.
Although a yacht race is not exactly a spectator sport as most of the action takes place far out on the sea, the event itself offers much fun at the Zamami end. There, spectators can see the boats circling the bay before crossing the finishing line off the port. After the race there is a chance for visitors to take a 25 to 30-minute run on some of the yachts. Race officials will start taking names of those who want to get on a ride about 1 p.m. and the rides begin at 2:30 p.m. The number of slots on the boats is limited and seats are allocated on first come – first served basis.
An awards party after the race is at the port starting 6 p.m. Local restaurants and pubs have stalls at the party to sell food and drinks. There’s also available a “Party Ticket” for ¥3,000 that includes four tickets for the food stalls and a ticket that covers all drinks.
Tto get to Zamami, there are two ferries that both leave from Tomari Port on Hwy 58 in Naha. Information on the ferries including schedules and prices in Englilsh are at http://www.zamamienglishguide.com/ferries.html
Kerama Islands including Zamami and the surrounding ocean area was designated a national park last year, and organizers remind those who plan to visit Zamami to follow the village rules including no touching of coral in the ocean, no open fires and always wear a shirt and shorts except when on a beach.