September, 2003 

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Who has seen the wind?
―Yumiko Shige, Born to Sail

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Hello, friends.
The heat of summer is still lingering, but I know the winds are changing.
When the wind passes by my ears, unconsciously I am humming the song 'Who has seen the wind?'
And when I notice I am singing the song, next moment I am thinking of Yumiko Shige, who has seen the wind in the sea of Savannah, Georgia, back in 1996.

This is a story of a girl who always chases the Wind.

Yumiko Shige
Yumiko Shige was born on August 4, 1965, in Karatsu. Her house was near the sea, so sea was always a friend to her. Yumiko joined the Junior Class of Genkai Sailing Club when she was in the 5th grade.
There, she met some very nice middle-aged men, as volunteer instructors, who taught her how to fix, paint, take care of the boats at the same time they taught her how to sail. They were the men who taught this small girl to get unified with the waves.
The famous coach Kazuoki Matsuyama found a genius of sailing in Yumiko. Hard training started. Matsuyama-sensei gave everything he had to Yumiko. She learned quickly.

In 1990, in a domestic competition, Yumiko met Alicia Yurie Kinoshita. Alicia was tall. Yumiko thought Alicia would make a perfect crew of her sailing 470 (Double-handed Dinghy).

Alicia was born in Denmark in 1967. Her father was Japanese, and mother Danish. After finishing
Alicia Yurie Kinoshita
her college in Yokohama, Alicia came to Karatsu to sail with Yumiko.

Yumiko and Alicia won the second place in the World Championship in 1992. In the Kiel Week in the same year, they became the champion. Now the world knew that they were here.

Then, the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
In the early stage of the races, it looked that Yumiko and Alicia were going to win the medal. Everybody expected it. But these two young girls were not ready in their mentality. In
Coach Kazuoki Matsuyama
the late stage of the game, they were losing themselves.
The result was the 5th place. Yumiko and Alicia were not satisfied with this result. Their skill should have been higher.

Yumiko and Alicia started their training again towards the next Olympic Games.
The road to Atlanta. The road to the Medals.
Yumiko and Alicia grew in the spirit. The experience of the failure made them stronger.

On July 24, 1966, their challenge started in the sea of Savannah, Georgia.

Here is an essay Yumiko wrote after the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Please enjoy it.

Chase the wind.
                                 Yumiko Shige

 I would never be sorry again, as I was, at the Olympic Games in Barcelona!
There, on the very first day, we were at the top unexpectedly, and that put us in the
Sailing in Barcelona Olympics
ranks which could hopefully get a medal,
The image of Gold Medal, which every sportsman dreams of, occupied our mind. Could I really get it? Anxiety gripped my heart. Races proceeded. We were not chasing the winds any more. We chased the rivals who were near Medals. Gradually we lost the eyes for the winds.
Chasing the ghosts of medals, we at last lost our way, and our boat sailed into a deep forest of No Way Out.
We could not follow anymore. We gave up the dream. Only the last race was the one that satisfied ourselves. I was so sorry. I shamed myself, because I lost control of myself by chasing the medals. I disgraced myself and the Olympic Games, where I should have enjoyed the very best essence of sailing.
Read the nature, get unified with the waves, and overwhelm the audience. Then, Medals come into your sight. A Medal is just a reward for the result. It is not a goal. Do not chase the Medals. We have to chase the winds. We
Siver Medal in Atlanta Olympics
have to be obedient to the Nature.

In Atlanta in 1966, the expectation on us became bigger and bigger, interviews were getting enthusiastic, and the Feeling of the Olympic was going to crash me down. I was losing myself again.
Then, thoughtfulness and support of the people whom I had met when I was sailing without any special intentions pulled me back to myself. Words of the people who try to take advantage of us might sometimes trap us in danger, but our team were not greedy. They
were patient even when I had my own way, and kept supporting me towards the big goal. It was not a system of a business organization, but it was the team of friends that escorted me through the way to the Medal.
I thank the bondage of friends for the Medal. This Silver Medal is theirs.

(Translated by Harumi Okochi)

In the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Yumiko and Alicia ranked 8th place.
They are still challenging big races in the world.
At the same time, Yumiko teaches children how to sail, how to be strong, and how to love the sea. This summer, in the three months from July to September, Yumiko instructed almost 100
small children love to sail
times. In between, she must take care of the harbor and the boats. And in between, she goes abroad to join big races.
She had no big sponsors to buy her new sails, fund her expedition expenses, because she doesn't belong to a big company.
The culture of marine sports in Japan is still premature.
Isn't is strange? Yumiko wonders. Japan is a sea-country. Japan should learn more from other Western countries where sailing is common as a part of daily life.

Until the day when it is so in Japan, Yumiko keeps chasing the wind.


Thank you for your meeting Yumiko Shige.
I hope you will yell out with me, "Yumiko!"

Thanks to GIF Animation Gallery for animation CGs.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

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