14th Annual Zamami to Naha Sabani Race
The weather spirits smiled on Okinawa, Japan yesterday.
These photos were taken from the deck of an escort boat, following the team I accompanied.
The race started at 9AM with over 30 boats leaving Zamami Island.
The sabani is a wooden boat weighing about 250 kilograms.
Each sabani has a crew of six.
The distance they race is over 30 kilometers.
Modern boats, of this sort, may be made of fiberglass or aluminum and have motors.
These, hand-crafted wooden boats, are made without the use of screws or, nails.
The only source of power: Sails and paddles.
A ferry can travel the distance in less than one hour.
The average sabani will spend four hours completing this challenging course.
There was only a gentle ocean breeze blowing.
That meant, paddling was the only way to compete.
Two hours into the race, the Kerama islands are far behind.
Around noon, the Umimaru (うみまる) team pulls alongside to get some water.
They have about an hour of paddling and sailing, left to do.
At times, it looked as if the sea would swallow the whole boat.
They just keep paddling to the east.
The team Umimaru, from Itoman, completed the race to Naha, in just under four hours.
Everyone, competing in this sabani race, demonstrated exceptional stamina.
It was just incredible !
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