Waseda University defended their titles in both the women’s and men’s eights race during the 87th Waseda-Keio Regatta in Tokyo, Japan.

Japan’s version of the Cambridge Oxford Boat Race is known as 'The Regatta' and showcases the sport rivalry between Waseda University and Keio University. It was first raced in 1905 on the Sumida River, the very first regatta course in Japan. Several editions were cancelled during World War II, and the regatta had to be relocated for many years due to pollution, but it was brought back to the Sumida River in 1978.

This year’s race saw excellent conditions with flat water and temperatures reaching 28 degrees Celsius. The women’s eights raced side-by-side over a 1000m course. The Waseda crew got an early lead and managed to hold off any challenges from Keio University.

“We had a very smooth start to the race, with good control until around the halfway point, where we made some mistakes. When the Keio team challenged us hard, we had a couple of bad strokes, but our crew was able to get back on track quickly. In fact, we had practiced facing such obstacles in the run up to the race. It is a fantastic achievement to win the regatta, extending the Waseda women's winning streak further,” says Shiho Yonekawa, captain of Waseda women’s eight.

The men’s eights raced 3.8 kilometres. Despite an impressive surge from the Keio crew to take a slight lead at the halfway point, the Waseda men pushed back to finish five seconds ahead.

“We maintained our focus, pushing hard at a steady 36-37 with long strokes. This consequently brought us to a length lead with confidence, moving towards the final quarter of the race. I am absolutely delighted to have won the race with Keio today - nonetheless, the season has just begun and we look forward to the challenges ahead of us toward the national championships,” says Daiki Ito, captain of Waseda men’s eight.

Waseda men's eight crossing the finish line at the 2018 Waseda Keio Regatta © Hosei Nakahira

 

Races were also contested in several other categories including high school men and women, university staff and exhibition canoe racing (see results below).

Waseda Keio Regatta Results 2018

As Japan continues to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, this race brings attention to the sport of rowing. Many Olympians and national coaches have come from these two rowing clubs and are aspiring to qualify for the Olympics in their home country. In the meantime, the deep history of the Waseda-Keio Regatta will continue with the 88th edition next year.