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Tsugaru Channel

From Openwaterpedia
73-year-old Toshio Tominaga at start of Tsugaru Channel crossing in northern Japan on 7 September 2016
Guinness World Record certificates for Nora Toledano and Mariel Hawley Dávila for their Tsugaru Channel crossing
Honoka Hasegawa (長谷川ほのか) swimming across the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan on 24 August 2016 in 8 hours 31 minutes
Japanese newspaper article about the 2015 crossings and personalities of the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan
Tsugaru Channel that lies 19.5 km between Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan where winds, eddies and the Tsugaru Current are typically strong. Photo by Dr. Steven Minaglia shows Tappi Misaki on Honshu in the foreground and Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido in the background. The Seikan Tunnel runs underneath the channel and is an excellent course for an optimal channel crossing.
Stephen Redmond exiting in the Tsugaru Strait on his quest for the Oceans Seven, captured in the film Defeating Oceans Seven by Red Bull Media House
Pat Gallant-Charette swimming across the Tsugaru Channel starting at Tappi Misaki
Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido
Tsugaru Channel flows
Tsugaru Channel, looking at Hokkaido from Tappi Misaki
Darren Miller course across the Tsugaru Channel starting in Kodomari on Honshu and finishing near Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido
Ion Lazarenco Tiron course across the Tsugaru Channel from Kodomari Benten Cape to Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido on 25 July 2017 in 11 hours 20 minutes in northern Japan

noun - The Tsugaru Channel or Tsugaru Strait (津軽海峡 or Tsugaru Kaikyō in English or Estrecho de Tsugaru in Spanish) is a channel between the Honshu, the main island of Japan, and Hokkaido in northern Japan connecting the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean and one of the swims in the Oceans Seven.

It was named after the western part of Aomori Prefecture. The Seikan Tunnel passes under it at its narrowest point (19.5 km) between Tappi Misaki on the Tsugaru Peninsula in Aomori, Honshū and Shirakami Misaki on the Matsumae Peninsula in Hokkaidō. The Tsugaru Current passes from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean.

Japan's territorial waters extend to three nautical miles (5.6 km) into the channel instead of the usual twelve, reportedly to allow nuclear-armed United States Navy warships and submarines to transit the strait without violating Japan's prohibition against nuclear weapons in its territory.

The Tsugaru Channel has eastern and western necks, both approximately 20 km across with maximum depths of 200 and 140 m respectively. In the past, the most common way for passengers and freight to cross the strait was on ferries, approximately a four-hour journey. Now the Seikan Tunnel provides a convenient but more expensive alternative and approximately halves the travel time in comparison to ferrying. When Shinkansen trains can traverse the tunnel to Hakodate (scheduled for 2015), the journey time will be cut to 50 minutes.

The swim is ranked among the Top 50 Open Water Swims In Asia. It is also part of the Oceans Seven challenge. Channel swims across the Tsugaru Channel are administered by the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association.

It is also known as the English Channel of the Far East.

Governing Bodies

Solo swims and relays are across the Tsugaru Channel are supported and governed by either the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association or the Tsugaru Strait Swimming Association.

The Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association takes swimmers and relays from the Kodomari Benten Cape or Tappi Misaki on Honshu to Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido. The Tsugaru Strait Swimming Association takes swimmers from the eastern peninsula of Honshu to Hokkaido.

Crossing Attempts

Interested in a crossing? Contact shimasaki.yusuke@his-world.co or headcoach@openwatersource.com for more information.

Channel Swimming Routes

There are two routes to take: the Kodomari Route and the Tappi Misaki Route. The Kodomari Route starts on Honshu's Aomori Prefecture at the Kodomari Benten Cape and finishes at Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido. The Tappi Misaki Route starts on Tappi Misaki on Honshu's Aomori Prefecture and finishes at Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido. The Kodomari Route is longer, but is considered to be more conservative with less risk and a higher percentage of success. The Tappi Misaki Route is shorter, but is considered to be more risky with a lower percentage of success.

Blakiston Line

Thomas Blakiston, an English explorer and naturalist, noticed that animals in Hokkaido were related to northern Asian species, whereas those on Honshu to the south were related to those from southern Asia. The Tsugaru Strait was therefore established as a major zoogeographical boundary, and became known as the "Blakiston Line".

Successful Tsugaru Channel Solo Swimmers

1. David Yudovin (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 13 hours 10 minutes (7 July 1990)
2. Steven Munatones (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 6 hours 11 minutes 17 seconds (July 1990)
3. Steven Munatones(USA) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 6 hours 39 minutes (July 1990)
4. Miyuki Fujita (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 36 minutes (2005)
5. Miyuki Fujita (Japan) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) on 31 August 2006 6. Miyuki Fujita (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) on 2 September 2006 7. Miyuki Fujita (Japan) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) on 4 September 2006 8. Masayuki Moriya (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 55 minutes (2011) in wetsuit
9. Penny Palfrey (Australia) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 14 hours 30 minutes (2011)
10. Darren Miller (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15 hours 55 minutes (2012)
11. Stephen Redmond (Ireland) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12 hours 45 minutes (2012)
12. Michelle Macy (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 55 minutes (2012)
13. Forrest Nelson (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 26 minutes (2012)
14. Craig Lenning (USA) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 10 hours 44 minutes (2012)
15. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 19 hours 36 minutes (2012)
16. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 19 hours 11 minutes (2012)
17. Kenichi Setsumasa (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 7 hours 30 minutes (2012)
18. Adam Walker (Great Britain) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15 hours 31 minutes (2013)
19. Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 38 minutes (2014)
20. Attila Mányoki (Hungary) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 7 hours 29 minutes (2014)
21. Guy Moar (Australia) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 32 minutes (2015)
22. Daniel Curtis (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 13 hours 39 minutes (2015)
23. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12 hours 38 minutes (2015)
24. Rohans More (India) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 10 hours 37 minutes (2015)
25. Abhejali Bernardova (Czech Republic) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 7 minutes (2016)
26. Stephen Junk (Australia) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 2 minutes (2016)
27. Honoka Hasegawa (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 31 minutes (2016)
28. Toshio Tominaga (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 58 minutes (2016)
29. Elizabeth Fry (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15 hours 48 minutes (2016)
30. Ion Lazarenco Tiron (Moldova) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 20 minutes (2017)
31. Jorge Crivilles Villanueva (Spain) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 28 minutes (2017)
32. Adrian Sarchet (Guernsey) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 14 hours 2 minutes 9 seconds (2017)
33. Prabhat Raju Koli (India) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 52 minutes (2017)
34. Cameron Bellamy (South Africa) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 7 minutes 28 seconds (2018)
35. Ryan Utsumi (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 46 minutes (2018)
36. Nora Toledano Cadena (Mexico) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido in a tandem swim with Mariel Hawley Dávila) in 6 hurs 20 minutes 52 seconds (2018)
37. Mariel Hawley Dávila (Mexico) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido in a tandem swim with Nora Toledano Cadena) in 6 hours 20 minutes 52 seconds (2018)
38. André Wiersig (Germany) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12 hours 55 minutes (2018)
39. Andrew Hunt (Australia) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 10 hours 52 minutes (2018)
40. Tomonari Ogino (Japan) solo wetsuit crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12 hours 5 minutes 50 seconds (2018)
41. Thomas Pembroke (Australia) solo solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15 hours 1 minutes 30 seconds (2018)
42. Lynton Mortensen (Australia) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 34 minutes 15 seconds (2018)
43. Masaki Sugita (Japan) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 13 hours 18 minutes 43 seconds (2018)
44. Simon Olliver (New Zealand) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 58 minutes 0 seconds (2018)
45. Bogusław Ogrodnik (Poland) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12 hours 30 minutes (2018)
46. Jonathan Ratcliffe (UK) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11 hours 0 minutes (2019)
47. Claire Faranda (France) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 51 minutes 24 seconds (2019)
48. Kieron Palframan (South Africa) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 41 minutes 5 seconds (2019)
49. Nathalie Pohl (Germany) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 10 hours 9 minutes 40 seconds (2019)
50. Marcia Cleveland (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 10 hours 11 minutes 2 seconds (2019)
51. Dina Levacic (Croatia) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 7 hours 13 minutes 15 seconds (2019)
52. Matthias Kaßner (Germany) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9 hours 45 minutes (2019)
53. Emre Erdogan (Turkey) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 7 hours 36 minutes (2019)
54. Luca Pozzi (Italy) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8 hours 20 minutes 58 seconds (2019)
55. Herman van der Westhuizen (South Africa) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 10 hours 22 minutes 37 seconds (2019)

Tsugaru Channel Records

  • First Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: David Yudovin, USA on 7 July 1990 in 13 hours 10 minutes
  • First Hokkaido-Honshu Crossing: Steven Munatones, USA on 30 July 1990 in 6 hours 39 minutes
  • First Female Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Miyuki Fujita, Japan in 2005 in 11 hours 36 minutes
  • Fastest Male Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Steven Munatones, USA on 29 July 1990 in 6 hours 11 minutes
  • Fastest Female Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Nora Toledano Cadena (Mexico) and Mariel Hawley Davila (Mexico) in 2018 in 6 hours 20 minutes 52 seconds
  • Fastest Youth (under 21 years) Honshu-Hokkaido: Honoka Hasegawa, Japan in 2016 in 8 hours 31 minutes
  • Fastest Overall Hokkaido-Honshu Crossing: Steven Munatones, USA on 30 July 1990 in 6 hours 39 minutes
  • Youngest Female Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Honoka Hasegawa, Japan in 2016, 18 years old 4 months 20 days
  • Youngest Male Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Prabhat Raju Koli, India in 2017 at 18 years 1 month 15 days
  • Oldest Female Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Pat Gallant-Charette, USA in 2012 at 61 years old
  • Oldest Male Honshu-Hokkaido Crossing: Toshio Tominaga (Japan) at the age of 73 in 2016 in 9 hours 58 minutes
  • Longest Female Honshu-Hokkaido Single Crossing: Pat Gallant-Charette, USA in 2012 in 19 hours 36 minutes
  • Longest Male Honshu-Hokkaido Single Crossing: Darren Miller, USA in 2012 in 15 hours 55 minutes

Oceans Seven

The Tsugaru Channel is part of the Oceans Seven, a global 7-channel challenge that consists of the following waterways around the world. It was first proposed by Steven Munatones in June 2008 and first achieved by Stephen Redmond in July 2012:

1. North Channel between Ireland and Scotland
2. Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand
3. Molokai Channel between Oahu and Molokai Islands in Hawaii
4. English Channel between England and France
5. Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and then Southern California mainland
6. Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan
7. Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa

Videos








Video of Chris Kraus, Rick Gaenzle and Brian Ross relay crossing of the Tsugaru Channel courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean-navi and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association




Ryan Utsumi crossing the Tsugaru Channel from Honshu to Hokkaido on 20 June 2018


Cameron Bellamy completing the Oceans Seven challenge with an 11 hour 7 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel on 20 June 2018.


Nora Toledano and Mariel Hawley completing a record-setting tandem swim across the Tsugaru Channel from Honshu to Hokkaido in 6 hours 20 minutes on 2 July 2018.
Videos of swimmers crossing the Tsugaru Channel in Japan, courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean-navi and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association.


On 20 July 2018, Aleisha Riboldi from Australia, Lisa Batey from the USA, and Youri Lavoine from France completed a three-person relay across the Tsugaru Channel escorted by escort pilot Captain Mizushima in a time of 18 hours 29 minutes 42 seconds across the Tsugaru Current between Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan.

H.I.S.

H.I.S. Co., Ltd. is the coordinating travel agency for individuals wishing to plan a Tsugaru Channel crossing.

Basic Information for Tsugaru Channel Aspirants

Ocean Navi of Tokyo, Japan, H.I.S., and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association work with the Japanese Coast Guard and the local fishermen's unions in Aomori Prefecture> and Hokkaido to offer a safe, enjoyable experience in solo and relay crossings of the Tsugaru Channel.

Location

The Tsugaru Channel or Tsugaru Strait (津軽海峡 in Japanese) is a channel between Honshu, the main island of Japan, and Hokkaido in northern Japan connecting the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean.

Oceans Seven

A crossing of the Tsugaru Channel is one of the swims in the Oceans Seven. Most swimmers attempt to swim the 19.5 km body of water between Kodomori Cape or Tappi Misaki on the Tsugaru Peninsula in Aomori, Honshū and Shirakami Misaki on the Matsumae Peninsula in Hokkaidō. The Tsugaru Current passes from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean, and winds, turbulence and waves can be very high in this area along with marine life including a variety of sharks including Great White Sharks. Japan's territorial waters extend to three nautical miles (5.6 km) into the channel instead of the usual twelve, reportedly to allow nuclear-armed United States Navy warships and submarines to transit the strait without violating Japan's prohibition against nuclear weapons in its territory.

Swim Preparation

Ocean Navi and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association understand channel aspirants may have questions about the crossing and how best to prepared before entering the water, during the crossing and afterwards.

Day before the Crossing

1. There are no shops near the Tappi Misaki fishing port. Swimmers and their crew will need to buy food and drinks well outside of the Tappi area on the route between Aomori City and Tappi Misaki. The closest supermarket is about 41 km or a 45-minute drive by car from Tappi, and is called the Maeda store Kanita.
2. Next door to the supermarket, there is a homeware store called Nicot where swimmers can buy a wide variety of miscellaneous items including cushions, mats, large plastic crates, boxes, wet weather gear, hardware and other equipment. However, please keep in mind this is a very rural area and so the store will not have everything you might need or want to have for your challenge.
3. There are also two Circle K convenience stores on the road to Tappi Misaki which are closer than the supermarket. These are typical Japanese convenience stores which have basic prepared food, snacks and drinks (including beer), mostly Japanese style, but also a limited selection of sandwiches. The closest convenience store is about 12 km or a 15-minute drive from Tappi Misaki.
4. The other Circle K convenience store is about 17 km from Tappi Misaki, a further 10-minute drive away at the Imabetsu intersection where there are 2 petrol/gas stations. There is also another Nicot homeware store located next door.
5. If swimmers would like to train in the sea to acclimatise to the local conditions and water temperature, they are free to swim in most locations along the Japanese coast. The first location is on the east side of Tappi Misaki on the main route from Aomori City to Tokyo. It is near the closer (to Tappi) Circle K convenience store. The second location is on the Kodomari side of Tappi, not too far from the location of the swim start.
6. Swimmers will meet with the escort boat Captain Mizushima in front of the Dainana Koyomaru, his boat that will accompany the swimmers which will be moored at Tappi Misaki fishing port. Everyone will coordinate the start time, will discuss the swim, and ask/answer any questions. Ocean Navi will contact the swimmers to coordinate the time of the meeting, but Ocean Navi will also be in touch by email or telephone the previous day when we arrive in the Tappi area. Please confirm the meeting time and location in advance.
7. The final decision on whether or not the swim will be conducted will be made by the captain who coordinates with the Japanese Coast Guard and the fishermen's unions. The swim will only take place on the designated day or the designated alternate date and will not be held on another date for any reason. This is the strict rule of the Association in coordination with the Japanese Coast Guard.
8. Photos or videos may be taken during the meeting with the captain.
9. The observer will check the lights to be used during night swimming. If the equipment is not appropriate, the swimmer must use the ones prepared by Ocean Navi.

Escort Boat

1. The escort boat will be docked at the Tappi Misaki fishing port.
2. This ship has a simple toilet where the outflow goes into the sea.
3. There is no bench or chairs to sit on in the boat. The swimmers and support crew will have to sit on the deck. Ocean Navi recommends the swimmers and their crew bring a rug, cushion, mat or something soft to sit on. Chairs are not recommended as they are not stable in turbulent waters and may damage the deck or fall into the sea.
4. There is no main electricity or plug, so it is not possible to charge anything or boil water during the crossing. Please bring warm drinks in thermos bottles or other appropriate containers.
5. There is no roof or sunshade on the boat.
6. Be prepared to wear a life vest. All crew and passengers must wear the life vests which are available on the boat according to Japanese Coast Guard regulations.
7. There will be a ladder fixed to the side of the boat to make the swimmer’s climb in and out of the water easier.
8. There will be a colored swim streamer about 5 metres long, 40 cm wide and 3 meters deep suspended from a boom on the escort boat. The swimmer can swim alongside the boat, following the swim streamer as desired.
9. Do not put or hang anything on the swimmer’s side of the boat or in a location that will obstruct the captain’s view of the swimmer or the course.
10. Crew members should not obstruct the captain’s view when supporting or instructing the swimmer in the water.
11. Kayakers or pace swimmers are not allowed due to Japanese Coast Guard regulations.

Equipment Provided (free to use)

Swim streamer (with marks that guides the swimmer)
○ ladder(for the swimmer to board boat from sea)
○ toilet
○ life vests enough for all staff
○ large warning banner in Japanese in order to notify other marine vessels that a swimmer is in the water and a crossing is in progress
○ two Shark Shields
○ two (total operation time: twelve hours) small wall clocks
○ AED
○ rescue tube
○ megaphone
○ cooler
○ one large and one small hot water pot
○ 10 liters of fresh water
whiteboard (50 cm × 40 cm) and markers
○ blanket
○ one whistle

  • Swimmers will be charged for damage to the boats or any of the above equipment

Day of the Crossing

1. Meeting point is located in front of Dainana Koyo Maru ship, moored at Tappi fishing port.
2. Start time will be decided at the meeting with Captain Mizushima.
3. Meet at the boat dock 30 minutes before the boat departs. Upon the captain's instruction, carry all the support equipment and personal effects to the escort boat. The captain will indicate where to store everything, usually in the hold.
4. The captain will indicate where to park the swimmer's car at the port.
5. Crew are advised to take a motion sickness medicine to avoid becoming sea sick before boarding the boat.
6. Prior to departure, the observer will conduct an alcohol test. If the equipment returns a positive indication, the swim will be cancelled.
7. Prior to departure, the swimmer’s blood pressure will be checked. If it is significantly outside the ideal range between 70 and 140, the swimmer’s health condition will be considered insufficient and the swim will be cancelled.
8. While on board, all crew members and passengers must wear life vests at all times.
9. It will take up to 90 minutes, often in the dark, to motor around to the swim starting point from Tappi Misaki. It is recommended to dress warmly.
10. Be careful that none of the swimmer's equipment or personal effects are blown away en route to the starting point.
11. The observer may take photos or video for documentation purposes.

The Start

1. The starting point of the swim is the shore of Cape Gongenzaki, Kodomari, Nakadomari-machi, Aomori Prefecture.
2. The captain and crew will prepare the boat after arriving at the starting point in Kodomari Bay. While this is happening, the swimmer and support crew should prepare for the swim.
3. Once the captain or observer gives you the signal that the boat is ready to begin the swim, the swimmer should enter the water quickly and swim to the shore of Gongensaki slowly - about 50 meters away. The swimmer will always need to wear a night light on their person/swim cap.
4. When the observer confirms that the swimmer touches the rock and waves to the boat, the observer will signal the start of the swim with an airhorn. If the sea is rough and it is not safe to touch the rock, the signal will be made near the rock without touching it. The boat will stay in the bay, so after starting, the swimmer should swim back directly to the boat. Once the swimmer is near the boat, the journey to Hokkaido will begin.
5. Please swim above the swim streamer alongside the escort boat to the extent possible without swimming into the escort boat. It is very dangerous to veer away from the swim streamer because that means you are outside the effective zone of the Shark Shield. Be aware that sometimes the water currents push the swim streamer under the escort boat, so if/when this occurs, swim alongside the escort boat.
6. The escort boat will take the best route possible for the swim. At times, the escort boat will turn in directions that is not aimed at the target point, sometimes in another direction than the goal. This means the captain is reading the wind and current, and is choosing the best course for the swimmer, so please do not be concerned.
7. For relays, the timing of changing swimmers is up to the team. However, if the sea conditions are difficult, the captain may give instructions concerning the swimmer changes.

During the Crossing

1. The Tsugaru Channel is located in international waters. It is not possible to prevent or divert a large ship’s route. Due to oncoming ships or the positioning of fishing nets, the boat (and the swimmer) may occasionally be required to pause or circle around the escort boat at the direction of the captain. Swimmers must follow the instructions of the captain.
2. Swimmers and their escort crew should collect and remove any garbage from the boat. Do not throw any cups or items in the sea.
3. The swimmer must swim above the swim streamer. If you ignore it and swim far away from the streamer or the boat, it will be regarded as a dangerous act and the observer will issue a warning. If the swimmer repeatedly disobeys, the captain has the authority to stop the swim.
4. Conditions in the sea are always changing, including the weather, tidal currents, waves, winds, water temperature, etc. The captain and observer judge the overall conditions, and if it is too difficult or dangerous to continue making forward progress towards Hokkaido, you must follow the directions of the captain.
5. Even after the swim has started, if the Japanese Meteorological Agency issues a weather warning, the swim will be halted.
6. If sharks or other dangerous marine life appear, the swimmer will be directed to board the boat at once. When safe conditions have been confirmed, the captain will direct you to start again from the same place that will be marked by GPS and noted in the observer notes.
7. The swimmer is generally allowed 14 hours to make the crossing which the captain may extend at his discretion. However, if other problematic circumstances arise before the 14-hours general time period, such as dangerous marine life (e.g., sharks), a swimmer lacking the power to continue, rough sea conditions, etc., the captain and observer will consult with each other and the escort crew and may decide to stop the swim. At or after 14 hours of swimming, the captain and observer may decide whether to continue or not after this consultation.
8. Dangerous and/or annoying behaviour by the escort crew is prohibited on the boat.
9. If the crew messes up the boat, please clean up before getting off at the Tappi Misaki fishing port.
10. Everyone on the boat must wear a life vest.
11. When the swimmers change for the relay, do not jump vertically feet first. This is extremely dangerous since there is a possibility of being drawn under the escort boat.
12. Do not place any luggage or equipment on the swimmer’s side.
13. Do not interrupt the captain’s view while on the escort boat.
14. If you experience any physical or mental difficulties during the swim and you think that is affecting your performance, the swimmer should be sensible and withdraw voluntarily.

The Goal

1. The finish is in the area of Fukushima-cho, Hokkaido.
2. The observer may take photos or video for documentation purposes.
3. The finish point will be determined by the captain or observer. When you are close to Hokkaido (the goal), and are several hundred metres from land, the boat will remain offshore while you complete the swim into the coast. The captain will indicate when to begin your swim to the shore.
4. The swimmer should proceed to the shore with care and keep an eye out for any dangerous objects, such as fishing nets. In the situation where it is night time when you reach the goal and/or there are big waves, and the captain cannot see you to confirm your landing on the shore, the final point to complete the swim will be a buoy or fishing net rope next to the shore that will be noted in the observer's notes.
5. When the swimmer lands onshore or touches the rocks, please indicate so by raising your hand and immediately return to the boat. If the swimmer takes any photos of the finish, they should do so as soon as possible and return to the boat. Supporters, crew members and observers can join the swimmer as long as they do not assist or touch the swimmer during the crossing. In the case of relay, all members can finish together.
6. When a swimmer returns to the escort boat, finish preparing the swimmer and their luggage and equipment to return, the boat will head back to Tappi fishing port. It can take up to 2 or so hours to return to Honshu from Hokkaido.
7. Again, please be careful and prevent any equipment or other belongings from falling into the sea or being blown away. The sea can be rough.
8. In the case of a two-way crossing, the swimmer can immediately turn around after finishing the first leg or they can rest for up to 10 minutes onshore as they wish. The two-way swimmer can be accompanied by their escort crew or observer or other supporters onshore as they wish in order to provide food, hydration, skin ointment, towels, new goggles or swim cap or swimwear, or a brief massage and encouragement. The time onshore shall be recorded and the time on the second leg will begin when the swimmer re-enters the water.

Returning to Tappi Misaki Fishing Port

1. Once the boat arrives back at Tappi Misaki fishing port, the swimmer and escort crew should remove all their equipment and belongings as soon as possible.
2. All waste must be taken off the escort boat.
3. Please check that nothing is forgotten on the escort boat.
4. If the escort boat is dirtied, the crew may be requested to clean the boat.
5. The challenge is finished and day is complete once the swimmer and support crew are all back on land at the port.
6. An official certificate from the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association and Ocean Navi and marine chart [see below] will be provided to the successful swimmer.

Captain’s Authority

Captain Mizushima makes all final judgements and decisions about the swim in all circumstances.

For more information, contact Shimasaki Yusuke at H.I.S. Co, Ltd. via email at shimasaki.yusuke@his-world.com or 〒163-6014 東京都新宿区西新宿6-8-1 住友不動産新宿オークタワー14階, TEL: +81-3-6692-9337. Alternatively, contact Masayuki Moriya at Ocean Navi, 株式会社オーシャンナビ 守谷雅之 at www.ocean-navi.com or via email at masayukimoriya@ocean-navi.com or 〒252-0303, 相模原市南区相模大野6-20-3-205, TEL: 090-3088-3434, FAX: 042-765-5606 or Steven Munatones at headcoach@openwatersource.com or +1-714-305-7374.

For additional information, visit Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association.



Instructions about Tsugaru Channel Swimming

• The swim begins from the shore of Gongenzaki in the Kodomari area of Nakadomari-machi, Aomori and covers a straight-line distance of around 30 km. The target is the town of Fukushima-cho on Hokkaido.
• Swims are held between late June and the end of September according to a schedule published each year by Ocean Navi and Captain Mizushima.
• Completed swims will be registered as an official result with the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association. Solo and relay swimmers may swim with wetsuits, but only swims that are swum without wetsuits and neoprene caps and are not interrupted by boarding of the escort boat (e.g., due to avoidance of sharks) will be officially ratified as successful unassisted solo crossings that adhere to the spirit of marathon swimming/channel swimming.
• Two boats will provide support on each crossing, one lead boat providing navigation and one main boat providing direct support to the swimmer.

How to Apply

• Registration fee is 600,000 Japanese yen(tax included)per crossing(regardless of number of people) as of the 2016 season.
• Entry fees must be transferred to the specified bank account at least three months prior to the swim date (six months prior beginning in 2017) in order to secure a slot. Please note that the swim will be cancelled if receipt of payment cannot be confirmed by this date.
• All bank transfer-related fees are to be paid by the swimmer.
• There is no discount of entry fees even for returning swimmers who have previously attempted a Tsugaru Channel crossing.
• If the swim is cancelled by organizers or if the swimmer cancels after having arrived in Japan, refunds will be returned in Japanese yen. Entry fees will not be refunded in any of the following circumstances:
• If the swimmer decides to cancel on the day of the swim due to insufficient physical fitness or physical condition.
• If the captain determines after the start of the swim that conditions are too dangerous to allow the swim to continue.
• If the swim is cancelled due to the detection of alcohol in the swimmer during a test performed on the day of the swim by an observer using alcohol-measuring equipment.
• If the swim is cancelled because a blood pressure measurement performed on the swimmer by an observer on race day determines that the swimmer’s values fall significantly outside a range of 70 for the lower value and 140 for the upper value.

Included in Entry Fees

• Pre-swim contact and progress reports to relevant government agencies and related parties.
• All arrangements for providing two support boats: one lead escort boat for navigation and one main escort boat for athlete support.
• Local regulations require the use of two boats to ensure safety. Because the Tsugaru Channel is an international route, there is frequent traffic from large marine vessels. Additionally, long line fishing is performed in the area and fixed nets are in place in various locations on the Hokkaido side. As a result, both a lead navigation boat and main support boat are necessary to safely support the swimmer.
• One observer who will always be present on board.
• The observer’s role is not to perform tasks such as providing nutrition to the swimmer from the ship. It is the swimmer’s responsibility to arrange for support staff to handle tasks such as nutrition and photography.

Cancellation Refund Policy for 2016

• within three months prior to swim date: 40% refund (240,000 Japanese yen)
• within one month prior to swim date: 25% refund (150,000 Japanese yen)
• within one week prior to swim date: 10% refund (60,000 Japanese yen)
• departure is cancelled due to the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s issuing of warnings for typhoons or other natural disasters: 50% refund(300,000 Japanese yen)
• All bank transfer-related fees are to be paid by the swimmer.

Cancellation Refund Policy Beginning in 2017

The following refund policy will take effect beginning in 2017:
• within six months prior to swim date: 75% refund (450,000 Japanese yen)
• within three months prior to swim date: 40% refund (240,000 Japanese yen)
• within one month prior to swim date: 25% refund (150,000 Japanese yen)
• within one week prior to swim date: 10% refund (60,000 Japanese yen)
• departure is cancelled due to the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s issuing of warnings for typhoons or other natural disasters: 50% refund (300,000 Japanese yen)
• All bank transfer-related fees are to be paid by the swimmer.

Relay Entries

Due to limitations of boat size, the number of swimmers should not exceed six people for relay entries. It is the swimmers’ responsibility to determine the order and timing of relay exchanges.

Documents to Submit When Entering

1. Complete the application form and agreement document without omission and submit them as attachments to email by no later than three months prior to the swim date (or six months prior to the swim date beginning in 2017). Applications will not be accepted after three months prior to the swim date (six months prior to the swim date beginning in 2017).
2. Applicants must purchase their own accident and injury insurance and submit a copy of their insurance policy documents as an attachment to an email by no later than three months prior to the swim date (six months prior to the swim date beginning in 2017). Failure to submit these copies by three months prior to the swim date (six months prior to the swim date beginning in 2017) will result in cancellation of the swimmer’s entry.
3. Health certificates are to be sent by regular mail. Health certificates must be dated within three months prior to the date of application. Failure to submit a health certificate by three months prior to the swim date (six months prior to the swim date beginning in 2017) will result in cancellation of the swimmer’s entry. Applications will be considered complete when receipt of entry fees and the items listed in the above three points have been confirmed.
4. The Health Waiver can be obtained via email from Shimasaki Yusuke, Ocean Navi or Steven Munatones.

Oldest Swimmers of the Oceans Seven Channels

As of July 2017, the oldest swimmers to have successfully crossed each of the Oceans Seven channels are as follows:

Cook Strait:

  • Tom Hecker (USA) age 60 in 10 hours 36 minutes from north to south in 2012
  • Toshio Ogawa (Japan) age 60 in 11 hours 51 minutes from south to north in 2015 [shown above]
  • Dr. Marilyn Korzekwa (Canada) age 58 in 11 hours 34 minutes from south to north in 2016

English Channel:

  • Dr. Otto Thaning (South Africa) age 73 years in 12 hours 52 minutes from England to France in 2014
  • Sue Oldham (Australia) age 65 in 17 hours 11 minutes from England to France in 2010

Tsugaru Channel:

Molokai Channel:

  • Mike Spalding (USA) age 60 in 15 hours 15 minutes from Molokai to Oahu in 2007
  • Linda Kaiser (USA) age 57 in 15 hours 0 minutes from Molokai to Oahu in 2007
  • Liz Fry (USA) age 57 in 17 hours 30 minutes from Molokai to Oahu in 2016

North Channel:

  • Graeme Lowe (Jersey) age 50 in 12 hours 27 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2015
  • Fergal Somerville (Ireland) age 50 in 12 hours 21 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2013
  • Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) age 65 in 14 hours 22 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2016

Strait of Gibraltar:

  • Dr. Euler Konrad Paul Herbet (Germany) age 74 in 4 hours 9 minutes from Spain to Morocco in 2009
  • Carol Sing (USA) age 64 in 5 hours 27 minutes from Spain to Morocco in 2005

Catalina Channel:

  • Jim McConica (USA) age 64 in 10 hours 48 minutes from Catalina to the mainland in 2015
  • Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) age 60 in 14 hours 11 minutes from Catalina to the mainland in 2011

External links