Japan celebrates major Para Sailing Championship milestone

Japan is celebrating after hosting its first simultaneous Para World Sailing Championship with the Hansa Class Asia Pacific Championship in Hiroshima, marking a major step forward for diversity and inclusion after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A total of 114 athletes from 13 countries across Asia, Europe, Oceania, Middle East and North and South America raced in the Para World Sailing Championship (Hansa 303 male and female, and Liberty classes) and Asia Pacific Championship (Hansa 303 single and double, Hansa 2.3 single and Liberty) on 20-23 October.

Host nation Japan had several reasons to celebrate this breakthrough event at the fully accessible Hiroshima Kannon Marina, including five medals secured by host nation athletes.

Takumi Niwa, 27, representing the Tokyo Para Sports Federation, took bronze in the Hansa 303 men’s single class in both Championships.

“Japan has finally been recognised on the world Para Sailing stage,” Niwa explained.

“Now, as a nation – and as we look to the next Paralympic Games in Los Angeles – we have a major opportunity to strengthen the Japanese team.”

Japan’s Para Sailing focus

World Sailing has been working closely with Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida and local Para sports and education organisations, mapping a course for Para Sailing in Asia.

After Kishida made an impassioned speech on the role of Para Sailing in creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive society at the Championships launch event earlier this year, the Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture Hidehiko Yuzaki and Mayor of Hiroshima City Kazumi Matsui welcomed athletes on race day on the shores of the scenic Seto Inland Sea.

Para Sailing Championship

Special Race Awards – young ambition

Alongside the eight podiums for these Championships (see full race results below), four Special Race Awards were granted to athletes to celebrate the history-making event.

The Best Junior Award went to 11-year-old skipper Ryohei Sasaki of Sailability Takamatsu – testament to the growing global popularity of Para Sailing amongst young people around the world.

Competing in the Hansa 303 doubles, he faced off against highly experienced sailors including the gold medal winning pair Christopher Symonds/Manuela Klinger of Australia (see Special Award winners below).

Para Sailing breaks Development record

World Sailing also staged a four-day Para Sailing Development Program (PDP) before the Para World Sailing Championship, celebrating yet another milestone – reaching 45 countries in less than six years since the program’s creation in January 2017.

LA28 Paralympic focus in Japan

With World Sailing now just three months away from knowing if the International Paralympic Committee will look favourably on its #BacktheBid campaign for sailing to be reinstated in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games, Masuhiro Baba, President of the Japan Sailing Federation and President of the dual Championships, underlined the uniqueness of Para Sailing:

“Sailing is an inclusive sport that anyone can enjoy regardless of gender, age or ability.

“These Championships are powerful – we are spreading the appeal of sailing to the world, increasing its value as a lifelong sport and showing that Para Sailing can help create an inclusive society that recognises diversity.”

Para Sailing Championship

See full results: https://www.hansaclass-hiroshima-result.com

2022 Hansa Class Asia Pacific Championship

Hansa 2.3 Single

1st place: Allister Peek (Australia)
2nd place: Kei Eshima (Sailability Enoshima)
3rd place: Wataru Sueda (Constant Wind)

Hansa 303 Single
1st place: Piotr Cichocki (Poland)
2nd place: Gauthier Bril (France)
3rd place: Takumi Niwa (Tokyo Para Sports Federation)

Hansa 303 Double
1st place: Christopher Symonds/Manuela Klinger (Australia)
2nd place: Piotr Cichocki/Olga Górnaś-Grudzień (Poland)
3rd place: Raphael Bizieux/Gauthier Bril (France)

1st place: Bob Schahinger (Australia)
2nd place: Vera Voorbach (Netherlands)
3rd place: Cristina Rubke (USA)

Liberty Servo
1st place: Vera Voorbach (Netherlands)
2nd place: Cristina Rubke (USA)
3rd place: Ryo Sasaki (Sailability Hiroshima)

Para World Sailing Championship

Hansa 303 Single Men
1st place: Piotr Cichocki (Poland)
2nd place: Gauthier Bril (France)
3rd place: Takumi Niwa (Tokyo Para Sports Federation)

Hansa 303 Single Women
1st place: Olga Górnaś-Grudzień (Poland)
2nd place: Miray Ulas (Turkey)
3rd place: Alison Weatherly (Australia)

1st place: Vera Voorbach (Netherlands)
2nd place: Cristina Rubke (USA)
3rd place: John Buchanan (New Zealand)

Special Race Awards
Effort Award: Charin Saleesongsom (Thailand) participated in all Hansa races for the first time in Japan.
Best Female Award: Yoko Yagi (Piccola Club) narrowly missed a medal in hansa 2.3 singles, finishing fourth.
Best Junior Award: Ryohei Sasaki (Sailability Takamatsu) competed in Hansa 303 doubles as an 11-year-old skipper.
Best Improvement Award: Ibrahim Kalay (Turkey) made remarkable progress during the tournament.

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