With all eyes on the pre-Olympics and the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Quest Howth has recently proven a big hit in the Land of the Rising Sun. While the focus in recent days may have been on the Olympic sailing at Enoshima with anticipation now shifting to Ireland playing rugby in Shizuoka in Japan next month, Quest Howth – which teaches sailing from the Howth Yacht Club marina complex - welcomed 17 pupils from an international background from the globally-renowned Tokai School at Nagoya, and introduced them to their first ever experience of sailing. And the students certainly enjoyed the fresh cool airs of Howth - unlike their hometown, which regularly hits temperatures of over 40 degrees.
As part of their curriculum with the 1962-founded Irish College of English (ICE) in Malahide, the students have a busy programme combining English lessons with cultural and sports activities. Their chosen activity was a Quest Howth Sailing Programme, which offers a different kind of learning through teamwork and individual specialities on the HYC’s own J/80 Sports boats.
Tokai is a highly-regarded international academic school in Nagoya, renowned as an educational powerhouse which has many kids who not only study hard during the school day, but often go to cram school straight afterwards. The school itself is in an urban environment close to the famous Toyota Motor Company, so the legendary Japanese work ethic is in the very air they breathe.
They work hard, so they play hard, and this is the twelfth year they have been coming to Ireland, Scotland and England to have fun and sport while developing their communication skills. Ian McIlhinney is the Social Activities Officer, and it was his idea to introduce sailing into the curriculum. He is delighted with how well the programme went, and confirmed that: “Coming to Howth to sail has been the highlight of their time in Ireland.”
Speaking about Quest Howth’s sailing, Manager Tatsuya Ito, the Japanese coordinator of the trip, says that: “Brian McDowell, the Training Manager in Howth, is excellent. He is always very kind to the students and teachers. His daughter Lizzy is also a good coach, and she has been in Kyushu to teach sailing. In Howth, our boys were very excited and enjoyed the sailing and the coast with its islands.”
Lizzy McDowell with her Japanese teaching experience particularly enjoyed meeting with the Tokai boys, and hearing and learning more about their life and hometown. Risako Oya, one of the teachers with the group explained: “It was a very good opportunity for students from many countries to interact by spending time together on the boats. I was amazed to see students raise and lower sails by themselves, and also with good cooperation. I'm sure they developed a certain bond through the four-day sailing course. We really appreciate having such a good opportunity.”
Patrick Jackson of Howth, who taught in Japan at Tokai and made the introductions to ICE, says he is: “Very happy to see these guys enjoying the beautiful environment of Howth and all the fun and camaraderie that sailing offers. It’s been great to get them out on the water. And they became so involved in the life of the harbour and our coastline that we even had them actively engaged in a beach-clean……..”