Not only are an unprecedented number of foreign swimmers from all over the world heading over to challenge themselves in the Tsugaru Channel, but Japanese swimmers and relays are also training in increasing numbers to swim between Honshu and Hokkaido. for this channel. Relays actually outnumber soloists.
In our opinion, there is only one wise, risk-reducing, nature-utilizing strategy for most swimmers.
The most conservative strategy with the highest rate of success for most swimmers is to start at the most western point of Aomori Preferecture (Kodomari Cape). This course replicates the same course pioneered by David Yudovin in 1990. However, some faster, younger swimmers may take a more risky strategy and start at Tappi Misaki (pioneered by Steven Munatones in 1990), but
From the Kodomari Cape, swimmers are guided by the most experienced pilots towards an island west of Hokkaido. The Tsugaru Current nearly always runs west to east due to differences in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, so swimmers are naturally pushed in the eastern direction, directly towards Hokkaido – precisely utilizing the elements to their benefit.
For most experience swimmers, it is really only a matter of time before they hit land. They will face large eddies en route that they will encounter as they approach Hokkaido. These eddies are strong and have a tendency to twist the swimmers around, unmistakably delaying their finish. But it is really only a matter of time before they hit land given determination and focus. A swimmer with the patience and experience of a 12-18 hour English Channel swim will simply keep swimming until they reach the shore.
As long as they start in the correct area (Kodomari) and remain injury-free, the odds of finishing are high. The swim may last 10 hours, 12 hours or 18 hours, but they tend to finish with a smile on Hokkaido.
Cold water is not a problem, especially in July, August and September so the Tsugaru Channel is much easier than the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the English Channel or the Catalina Channel from this perspective.
Jellyfish and sharks are not a problem, so the Tsugaru Channel is much easier than the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and the Molokai Channel from this perspective.
The tides are not relatively strong, so the Tsugaru Channel is easier than the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the English Channel, and the Molokai Channel from this perspective.
The distance (shortest straight-line tangent) of the Tsugaru Channel is only 19 km, so it is much easier than the North Channel, the English Channel, the Molokai Channel, the Catalina Channel and the Cook Strait from this perspective.
But the Tsugaru Current is tremendously strong, almost always augmented with constant winds that usually blow strongly, kicking up unforgiving whitecaps.
And the resulting eddies near the shores due to the non-linear coastlines are surprisingly strong and unpredictable. They can go left or right. They can be a few hundred meters in diameter or swirl for a few miles. They can spin slowly or they can rotate quickly.
It is the Tsugaru Current, eddies and winds that cause most swimmers fits. Unlike other channels where the opposite shoreline seems to stay stationary for hours on end, the other coast in Japan frequently seems to frustratingly fall further away as you get closer. It is an unforgiving optical illusion that plays with your mind.
Considered to be one of the easier channels of the Oceans Seven, the Tsugaru Channel can be inscrutable as the Japanese language and frustratingly unforgiving as a sea of whitecaps.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association