Wednesday, 22nd. August 2001

Today, we have some bad news and some good news from our Waterski World Games here in Akita.

The drama began late yesterday afternoon just as we prepared for today’s final Official Practice. Most of the national TV Stations had great regular bulletins on the World Games – but also on the Pabuk Typhoon which was moving too slowly up Japan’s east coast towards Tokyo. The ferocious 120mph winds and floods were now a serious threat to us on the far north west coast.

At 4.00pm yesterday, the local Ogata Water Authority announced that the water in the canals in the Akita area would be dropped to avoid flooding the surrounding rice paddies ! This announcement arrived just as our Wakeboard Riders were lining up for their practice session. As you can see from the photo, everything still looks normal at our excellent site. While all our Waterski Athletes were immediately bussed back to the Hotel for a lavish Reception hosted by the Mayoress of Ogata Village, Chief Judge Dimos Alexopoulos and Homologator Candido Moz worked miracles at the ski site with our Japanese friends to save our equipment from possible Typhoon demolition overnight. They got back to the Hotel at 10.30 pm – exhausted – having removed everything from the falling water. Everything literally means everything – both Jump Ramps, all four Boats, every buoy and marker on the water – and even the Jetties.

Today, final Practice Day was cancelled – not just for Waterskiing but also for most of the other outdoor sports. As we awoke, we expected to see devastation all around our Hotel. This was not to be. The unpredictable Typhoon decided to move at a snails pace up the east coast – and all we got was rain, hot sticky 30C / 90Fh air and fairly harmless wind. However, worse is expected tonight – but today was a washout as far as Waterskiing was concerned. Our Chief Judge has just announced that the next decision on our timetable will be made at Noon tomorrow, Thursday. However, the World Games for Waterskiing WILL now run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – instead of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This is one extra day – but all Athletes did not plan to leave till Monday anyway and so the good news is that we should still be able to have a full World Games Tournament here in Akita.

In the meantime, our missing teams from Colombia, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland have arrived. The Pabuk Typhoon has just been downgraded a few minutes ago to a Tropical Storm – and all Tournament Barefoot and Wakeboard athletes are itching to get on the water for an experience of a lifetime. Our moment in Japan should arrive here on Friday !

Des Burke-Kennedy