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Runner up at the Junior World Championship!
Aiming to recapture the intercollegiate title through physical and mental harmony

Waseda University Sailing Team
Keisuke Kushida(left)
Takuya Shimamoto(right)

Piling into a five meter long boat, two men manipulate two sails, capturing the every-shifting wind to move forward. This is the scene set by Keisuke Kushida and Takuya Shimamoto participating in Snipe class (pair) sailing competitions. The length of a race is set in accordance with current wind conditions so that the goal can be reached in about one hour. As their sailing boat cannot stop while on the ocean, even setting up before a race is a hassle. They begin setting their sails five minutes in advance in an area close to the starting line and prepare to cross it just as the race starts. At important events, two to four races are held in a day over three days, with competitors struggling for position at the gathering points. Depending on the weather, however, only 6 or 12 races might be held. Every factor depends on the wind, and that is what makes sailing so fun.

The pair first teamed up together last year in March at the All-Japan Junior Championship. Now in perfect sync, they are leading the team.

“The first time I rode on one was in my first year of high school, and I was moved by how only the power of nature could move such a large boat,” says Kushida. What is needed to win is not only the endurance to run a whole race under the blazing sun and the strength to manage the sails, but also discerning the condition of the waves and ocean surface and moving the boat to the place with the best winds possible. “Sometimes up to 70 boats start at the same time. Since you can't get good wind in the middle of a free-for-all, you have to consider how to move in any and all situations,” Kushida told us. “Although technique and endurance are also important, it's the teams who use their heads well who win. It's an unexpectedly intellectual sport,” says Shimamoto. Making eye contact throughout the interview and speaking of their mutual love of sailing, the two are in perfect sync. That is as it should be—once a race starts, they and they alone must read the movements of rival teams and the wind to establish their strategy. On the ocean, where the voice of your coach cannot reach, you can only depend on your partner in the boat with you.

Making use of the good combination they make together, the pair achieved victory in the All-Japan Junior Championships in March of last year. Appearing in the Junior World Championships held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in September, they raced for the title against 30 boats from 7 countries. Although they had a late start, reaching just 10th place on the first day, they strove to make a vigorous comeback and reached the top of the ranking. In the last race, however, they were unable to sail according to plan and finished in overall 2nd place. “I'm frustrated that we let our victory of the previous day slip way. We can't be satisfied with that,” says Shimamoto.

Each weekend, the pair stays in Hayama to train, and they also engage in lengthy training camps during summer vacation and other holidays. Although managing club members who eat and sleep together is also Team Captain Kushida's business, the ideal is for each person to act on their own initiative, and important jobs are purposely entrusted to younger members. It is all to achieve overall victory in the All-Japan Intercollegiate Championship in November. In the prefinals in May, they achieved 2nd place in the Spring Kanto Student Yacht Championship, building momentum for autumn. “I want to keep competing after graduating, so first I would like to make a big win while at Waseda. That will help my future in the sport and also pay back all the people who have supported me,” Kushida told us. “You never know until the very end who's going to win in sailing, and there's always the possibility that you can beat anybody. That's the real charm of the sport,” says Shimamoto. The Waseda University Sailing Club achieved three consecutive wins from 2008 to 2010, and they are heading for another championship. In order to make that dream a reality, Kushida and Shimamoto will push forward in perfect mental and physical harmony.

The Junior World Championship was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Waseda University Sailing Club came in at number two just one point behind the top-ranked Brazilian team.

Leaning in just barely above the surface of the water and using the whole body to manipulate the sails and capture the wind.


Keisuke Kushida(left)
Fourth Year, School of Social Sciences

Originally from Saitama, Keisuke Kushida graduated from Waseda University Senior High School. His hobbies include reading and making confections, which he began doing during high school. His specialties are cheese cake and sables Florentin.

Takuya Shimamoto(right)
Third Year, School of Sport Sciences

Originally from Chiba, Takuya Shimamoto graduated from Chiba Isobe Senior High School. He likes to relax during off hours by watching dramas he's recorded. Shitsuren chocolatier is his favorite, because “Satomi Ishihara is too cute,” he says with a smile.