Coming in about 3am on the morning of January 8, placing third in the Palau-Japan Friendship Yacht Race, Minnie is Team Palau’s the doubled hulled catamaran sailboat, manned four Palauans and two Japanese crew members.

The Team Palau was organized by Beches Singeo with the sailboat owner and skipper Masahiro Tomari, navigator Yutaka Ito, and three Palauan crew members, Preacher Ulserchakl Riungel, Rurul Osubedereng and Ediloi Seklii, the only female in the crew, for Palau-Japan Friendship yacht race.

The yachts left Japan on December 29, racing across 1700 miles of ocean to Palau before January 15th.

“All of the racing yachts are single hulled, really built for racing but ours was a double hulled catamaran but we made it here in 10 days,” said skipper Beches Singeo.

The three Palauan male crew members have some boating experience.  Beches Singeo had sailed before but on different boat between Okinawa and Palau.  The other two sailed to Velasco in the north and Helen’s Reef in the south but this was their first time to sail on a catamaran sailboat between Japan and Palau.

“We have the best crew,” said yacht owner and main skipper Masahiro Tomari in an interview yesterday.

The travel from Japan to Palau was rough at times with nearly 10 feet waves said Mr. Singeo.  The fastest speed they reached was at 17.5 knots.

Ulserchakl Riungel, one of the Palau crew members said he would do it again if he has a chance.  He said he found through this experience that he liked the sailing.  “I would do it again but I would like to inspect the boat first.”  The boat’s autopilot was down and they had to manually pilot the boat from Japan here.  “We had 3 crews per shift covering the 24 hours.”

The only female crew member, Ediloi Seklii, a student attending university in Japan was not available at the time of the interview but skipper Singeo said she was so happy to be home because they arrived just in time for her birthday.

The awarding ceremony of the Japan-Palau Friendship Yacht Race will be held next week, January 15th. (L.N. Reklai)