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Japanese sailing legend Masayuki Ishii dies aged 82

by Hal Wagstaff (NZL) on 23 Feb 2014
Masayuki Ishii (JPN) . ..

The sailing legend of Japan, Masayuki Ishii passed away at age of 82 on February 12th from interstitial pneumonia.

Hal Wagstaff (NZL), a former ISAF Vice President, and a long-time friend of Mr Ishii writes:

The following is a short review of internationally acclaimed Japan sailor Masayuki Ishii san ( Masa to friends everywhere); Masa passed away this month.

Masa was born to a building contractor about 84 years ago, attended university in Tokyo and rose to senior executive posts in the paper industry. Throughout his education and professional years he applied himself to learning the finer points of sailing across refining of hulls and sails, racing tactics, crew training and fitness.

He quickly understood the importance of rules compliance in hull and sails details and with the rules of sailboat racing. He became internationally acclaimed as a Judge and Umpire of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF ) and served on the International Jury at the 1992 Olympic Games and countless major regattas and World Championships of many classes, including the Whitbread Round the World Race and several Melbourne to Osaka classics.

His allround excellence in sailing matters led to Masa sailing for Japan in the 1990 Olympic Games (Dragon class) and 1984 Olympics (Star class); also many world and national championships, particularly in the Snipe class.

Masa formed a friendship with a senior sailor, Katsumi Hirata, and their mutual interest in all aspects of sailing saw them develop strong crews and efficient yachts in which they won several major events, notably in Hirata san's 32 footer 'Martha'.

Hirata san's enthusiam to race eased off in the 1990's, so Masa commissioned the building of a 30 footer named 'Ranka'. Built by John Lidgard and team to my design. '

Ranka' was launched in 1998 and regularly won races on Sagami Wan ever since. 'Martha' also came from my board, but 'Ranka' is of lighter form. I am proud to have enjoyed a long friendship with Masa and Katsumi on the water and in sailing administration. My wife Trudie and I had many happy times together with Masa's wife Tazuko and family in many parts of the world. We are delighted that the relationship between Masa's family and ours has continued.

So it is that we were deeply saddened by the passing of Masa. We will lovingly remember him, as will many, many other sailors from all round the world.

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