Published: Monday, 20 July 2015

330 sailors representing 21 nations gathered in Castle Karatsu Bay, Japan, near Fukuoka for the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 420 World Championships, July 17-25.

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Three 420 World Championship titles are on offer – the 420 Open World Championship, 420 Ladies World Championship and the U17 420 World Championship. Racing starts today (July 20), with the 165 teams split into five racing fleets.

The 420 World Championships opened in the presence of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado-no-miya Hisako of Japan and Honorary President of Japan Sailing Federation (JSAF), as well as JSAF President Hiro Kawano.

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(Princess Takamado-no-miya Hisako of Japan)

“This Championship has special meaning for the Japan Sailing Federation," says Kawano. "Four years ago, JSAF decided to select the 420 as the official boat for youth sailors at national sports festivals and inter-high school leagues which are the major sailing events here. Then this year, we hosted our first 420 regional races. So this is a real joy for us to host the 420 World Championships in Japan in such an historic year.”

2015 sees the introduction of the U17 World Championship title, which recognizes the growing participation of younger teams at the 420 Worlds. Featuring 33 teams, the U17 fleet will sail in an open format for both Open and Ladies teams.

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Participating nations in the 420 World, Ladies World and U17 World Championships are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and USA.

Among the youngest teams in contention for the new U17 World Championship title will be 13-year-old helm Tatsuto Fujiwara and crew Junichi Nagasawa aged 15 representing the host nation.

With the 420 World Championships formally declared open, a ceremonial Kagami-aari took place, with officials breaking open a barrel of sake with large mallets. Teams then enjoyed a buffet and an impressive Japanese fireworks display.

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Alongside the racing, shoreside the 420 World Championships will give teams a real flavour of local culture and history, with a social programme including traditional Japanese fireworks, puppet show, carnival parade and a diverse culinary experience.