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Annual Sabani race scheduled for June 30

Date Posted: 2002-04-22

The annual Sabani race between Naha and Zamami Island will be held on June 30, organizers announced Saturday. Sabani is the Okinawan traditional narrow boat that local fishermen and traders have used for centuries when plying the waters between and around the islands. The Sabani’s used in this race are modern-day replicas of the original Sabani’s with a sail and a crew to augment propulsion with oars. A traditional Sabani is a wooden boat with a pointed bow and stern, flat bottom and is well suited for the type of ocean she travels in. It is the same type of boat used in the annual “Hari”, or Dragon Boat races.

This time the starting line of the race will be off Naminoue Beach in Naha City and the finishing line 46 kilometers away off the coast of Zamami Village at Kerama Islands. Organizers say that 20 teams have already confirmed their participation to the race. In two previous races, Team Yushi, a group from Kadena 18th Maintenance Squadron took part in the race finishing second in the first race, and fourth last year.

This year’s race is also dedicated to the memory of Peter Blake, a well-known yachtsman and advocate of clean ocean environment who passed away last year. Blake was visiting Okinawa during the first Sabani Race, and went to Zamami to see the start.

“Sabani represents the heart of Okinawan ocean culture, and we have to do our best to preserve Sabani and traditions it represents to future generations. This race helps us to do just that,” Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga said. Onaga is also the chairman of the Sabani Race Organizing Committee.

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