Monday, 20 August 2001

From the moment we landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo, we knew that we were in good hands ! Our Japanese Waterski friends are great organisers. A group of helpful and friendly World Games Volunteers collected our baggage, guided us our waiting Coach – and off we went to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport for our last flight to Akita – about one hour to the north west. Again at Akita Airport, they were waiting and ready for us again. They even stopped the Hotel Coach to get us some food after our 12 hour flights.

Akita is a spectacular location facing the Japan Sea and surrounded by its famous rice paddies and the Shirakami Mountains. The Waterski site is on the outskirts of the Ogata-mura Village – all built on land reclaimed some time ago from Lake Hachiro-gata. Ogata now has a population of 310,000 tidy souls.

After a delicious traditional Japanese breakfast this morning at dawn and three days before the World Games Waterski event even starts, we arrived early on site to find high standards everywhere – great set up on the sheltered river, spectators stands aleardy in place, enormous sound system, fully equipped Judges shore-side building, shower rooms for the Skiers, changing rooms, three Jetties, three Nautiques shining in the 28C / 86Fh sunshine – and teams of skilled craftsmen everywhere. Italy’s Candido Moz has already completed the checking of the courses on the water – and was smiling confidently. One casual comment by IWSF Secretary General, Graziano Tognala, that the Judges Scoring Balcony needed some sun protection, produced a hand crafted Porch Roof within ninety minutes ! Chef Judge, Dimos Alexopolous from Greece had a full briefing with his team and double checked the timing of the busy schedule ahead.

This event is quite unique – and we can sense the excitement in the air. It is the first major international competition for the IWSF to feature Tournament, Barefoot and Wakeboard together. Already, the overlapping Courses on the water look fine. The Athletes are arriving today and tomorrow and we have a late briefing tonight with our Chief Judge, Dimo. Tomorrow we will finalise the running orders and make final Course adjustments. Mr Hitoshi Miida, Senior Director of the Japan Water Ski Association, can feel justifiably proud of what we have seen here today. It is a great credit to our friends here in Japan. Now we are keeping a close eye on a ferocious weather system heading this way from Osaka in southern Japan. So, lets hope it burns out before it reaches our World Games 2001.

Des Burke-Kennedy