It was a much bigger event than we had all expected with at least 100 teams there, all 4-man sweep boats, with more guys than girls. All teams represented local organizations and businesses - so we were rowing representing the board of education, and they had a whole tent outfitted for us and the guys team. We arrived late to the opening ceremony to the sounds of the officials announcing our presence "...ALTs..." and we cheered for ourselves.
Our first race was one of the first on the morning with 4 boats in our heat. We powered through despite one crab and a bit of dodgy cox work (to be fair, it was quite windy that day, but we did cross lanes, which is verboten but they let it slide) and we placed 2nd, with 2 to advance to the semifinals. So we waited around for the afternoon semifinals while the wonderful board of education people cooked us yakisoba and such and watched the guys team advance to the semifinals as well! Plenty of the local ALTs came out to cheer us on. In the end, we came in 2nd out of 3 boats in the semifinals, with only 1 to advance to the finals. I was certainly proud of getting that far, with only 4 practices, 3 novice rowers and a novice coxswain! Not bad at all, certainly respectable.
I had picked out our uniforms - as the "ALT Ladies" team we had wanted to go with pink, but Owen vetoed this, so compromise to purple was inevitable. So I searched for purple T-shirts and ended up with some not so matching ones with crazy Engrish slogans written on them ie. "It is likely to visit you" and "Your smile was felt so happy".
At the end of the day, we were invited to participate in the closing ceremony, and it was hinted that we might receive an award. And so it seemed that someone from the board of ed may have had an in with the officials and we received an award for "good manners" and "achievement on a first try", or more likely, though it was not translated this way - "team spirit", along with an award certificate for sapporo beer, although we have no idea how to redeem this.
Anyway, it was a great time and I am certainly glad I got to fulfill one of my dreams while here - rowing in Honjo.
the team - cathy, me, owen, amelie, and edel
at the start of the semifinals - we're on the far right. The team that beat us ended up winning the finals.
rowing back to the dock with heads held high
waiting in formation at closing ceremonies
i had told the girls to butch it up to scare the other teams.
owen and i accepted the award on behalf of the team
enjoying our award with the head honcho from the board of ed
our fan club: yumiko-san, australian greg, doug, jeff, david, and canadian jon