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How We Plan to Promote Coastal Rowing in Japan

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

For the Japanese version, click here


Who We Are

PikaPage is a company founded by Mr. Leroy Yue in Fukuoka, Japan. Leroy is an enthusiast of rowing sport. He moved from Hong Kong to Fukuoka right at the beginning of COVID. PikaPage is the official Japan distributor of Row On Air Inflatable Rowing Systems.




What we have achieved in 2022

We have successfully organized rowing experience days in our local beach, as well as informal rowing lessons for beginners. We have also successfully organized the first Beach Sprint Rowing Race in Fukuoka in November 2022, with the assistance from the Fukuoka City Rowing Association.

2022 was a testing and learning year for us. We plan to fully launch activities in 2023 to promote Coastal Rowing in Japan:


 

Plan for 2023

Fukuoka International Boat Club (FIBC)

We will officially start a rowing club, using the facilities of a windsurfing center on Imajuku Beach, Fukuoka City. Members and visitors can use the changing room and shower facilities there. Through this club, we offer the following activities:


Local Beginner Programs

Fukuoka, like many places in Japan, has an abundance of coastal resources for rowing. We plan to continue to organize "Free Experience Days" to showcase rowing sport to the public, and to let people experience the feeling of "gliding on water" for free.

Instead of a full lesson from the first encounter, we find it more efficient to just invite a curious onlooker (e.g. someone just swimming in the beach) to sit on the rowing board to "go for a ride" with the instructor. This will keep the first experience short and sweet. Most people who have taken a ride with us were really amazed by the sense of speed so close to the water surface.

Visibility and access is important. Experience Days will be held on beaches or water fronts that are visible to the general public, as well as participants of other water sports such as SUP.



We can then offer lessons for those who want to recreate the "gliding on water" experience themselves. We have developed a program specific for the Row On Air System. On top of standard rowing skills, this include how to get on the board from a beach without getting wet, capsize recovery and other safety measures.



Coastal Rowing Trips for Intermediate and Experts

We plan to organize regular rowing trips starting from Imajuku Beach (our base) on both weekdays and weekends. This is different from regular training aiming for races. Each trip will be going to a destination, usually to have a picnic on land, but in some cases, such as Noko Island, participants can have food at the destination.

[route photos - Fukuoka Tower - see the custom google map I shared to you.]

This is inspired by regular coastal rowing trips Leroy participated in while he was in Hong Kong. Leroy is a member of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club which is a sailing and rowing club with over 150 years of history.


Coastal Rowing for "Activity Tourism"

Like most places, Fukuoka City is promoting Activity Tourism. Through Japanese and overseas activity platforms such as Air B&B and ActivityJapan.com


Rowing enthusiasts from outside of Fukuoka can add a Coastal Rowing trip to their itinerary while visiting Fukuoka.

The Nokonoshima Challenge





This is an on-going long distance rowing challenge. From Spring of 2023, rowers can start from our base in Imajuku, row in a group of 2 or more boats to Noko Island.

At the start, each rower is to take a selfie and submit to our official site, which will record the start time of each challenge. When reaching the destination - a designated beach on Noko Island, the rower takes a selfie and upload again. They he/she can take a rest with the group. On return, the rower takes selfie again. Our staff will then calculate the total round-trip time, and post it on a online leaderboard.

At the end of the November each year, the challenge is ended. Rowers at the top of each age group will receive some awards. An award ceremony dinner can be held for rowers to gather together each year.


Supporting Beach Rowing Sprints





With our successful experience last year, we can advice Rowing Associations in other parts of Japan in terms of the technical aspects of organizing a Beach Rowing Sprint. We can also loan out Rowing Boards as well as buoy markers. Row On Air systems can easily be delivered by standard courier at very low costs.



Also, Row On Air Rowing Boards are more stable and therefor much easier to race on. We have 2 beginners female rowers, one in her 60s successfully completing 2 rounds of races in one day. All participants thoroughly enjoyed the race.



In association with the Fukuoka City Rowing Association, we plan to expand the race to overseas participants this year. Leroy has the connection and experience to organize international events. He is currently planning the first Fukuoka International Beach Water Polo Tournament, which currently has participants from over 10 Asian and European countries signed up.


Our Strengths

We started as a digital service company many years ago. We provided mobile apps that served sports tournaments and races, including the Asian Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong (2018). So we are good at internet content creating and promotion, which is very important nowadays to introduce something new to a wide audience of people.

We also have the financial resources in investing in rowing equipment to start a local rowing club, as well as provide free loan of equipment to others in Japan who want to organize beach races. Since we focus on the new inflatable and portable rowing system, there will be significant saving in transportation cost. This will help let more people try rowing, via experience days as well as beach sprint races.

Opportunities & Challenges

Traditionally, to start a rowing club, a pontoon and a boat house is required. This is significant investment. Also, if the location is within the control of the Port Authority, a lot of paperwork is required, both for starting the rowing club and for maintaining it. The alternative model is deployed successfully by SUP Clubs throughout Japan. A lot of beaches are not under Port Authority control. The public is free to use them for various activities. SUPs are easily portable and stored in small spaces. That is why the SUP sport has grown tremendously from zero, only from 10 years ago.

Row On Air inflatable rowing boards and rigger system are easy to store and transport. Also, they are easy to launch from beaches. We think that this opens up an easier alternative for rowing enthusiasts to start new rowing clubs on beaches.

Also, it can be cost effective way for existing clubs to expand their fleets. With it ease of use and extra stability, there is strong opportunity to expand youngster and beginner adults participation. We think the key challenge is getting more rowing enthusiast to understand the opportunities presented by this new technology. Without the need to build boat house and pontoons, the initial investment is significantly reduced. People can lobby for local government support, to boost sports participation as well as "Action tourism" described above.

Let's work together!

Our main weakness is that we do not have strong connections in the rowing world in Japan. We will keep trying to promote these opportunities via social media and internet advertising, but we realize the importance of direct human connection. We are most happy to meet online or face-to-face, to discuss how we can promote rowing in Japan.


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