The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) has successfully completed its Adventure Race Japan (ARJ) fundraising challenge, raising a total of US$1.3m through team registrations, corporate sponsorships, and other fundraising efforts. Due to the incredible response and support shown from the maritime industry, MtS has exceeded its fundraising target to support seafarers’ welfare.
The highly anticipated Adventure Race Japan (ARJ) challenge took place from 18-21 May 2023 on the Izu Peninsula, Japan, and witnessed an exhilarating display of determination and camaraderie as 64 teams from 19 countries fearlessly tackled the ‘Green Dragon’ and ‘Black Dragon’ races in support of The Mission to Seafarers. The event spanned three action-packed days, testing the resilience of participants amidst challenging weather conditions and mountainous terrain, while raising funds for seafarers’ welfare.
ARJ Day 1 kicked off with a check-in and event briefing, led by MtS Secretary General Andrew Wright, welcoming teams ready to take on the Green Dragon and Black Dragon races the following day. Representatives from Gold Sponsors, Swire Shipping & Swire Bulk, and Welcome Dinner Sponsor, Womar Logistics Pte Ltd, also addressed the participants. Rules, safety measures and event expectations were explained, followed by a delightful buffet dinner fostering valuable networking opportunities.
ARJ Day 2, also known as Race Day 1, began with an early start for teams as they departed for the start line, accompanied by an uplifting song from Sakura Kuma, CEO of APM Terminals Japan. Despite the rain forecast, team spirits remained high, and the excitement continued throughout the day. Along the route, teams faced two mini-challenges: a squat challenge and a creativity challenge using natural resources. The day ended with a dinner sponsored by Halfway Dinner Sponsors, Abo Shoten, where participants were treated to presentation videos and speeches by Gold sponsors APM Terminals, Ocean Network Express and Arrow Shipbroking Group, as well as MtS Regional Director in East Asia, Stephen Miller and ARJ committee member Ken Hasui of Norstar Shipping.
ARJ Day 3 marked the final day with teams tackling a shorter yet more challenging route, featuring steeper inclines. Due to heavy winds, the planned stand-up paddleboarding challenge was cancelled, but teams remained undeterred. The grand finale of Adventure Race Japan 2023 was marked by the Awards Ceremony, where teams were recognised for their outstanding performance in various categories, including overall winners, fastest completion times, highest fundraisers, and winners of the squat challenge and creativity challenge.
The Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, hosted by Christopher Eve, Managing Director at Informa Markets Japan, Chairman of MtS Japan and ARJ Committee member, welcomed distinguished guests, including President & CEO Takeshi Hashimoto of MOL and President Yukito Higaki of Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., both Gold sponsors, who presented prizes. Notably, President Hashimoto shared his ambition to achieving both the fastest and highest fundraising team at the next event. The night ended with a Gala Dinner, sponsored by the UKP&I Club, while Norstar Shipping sponsored the evening’s drinks.
Adventure Race Japan 2023 raised an incredible total of US$1.3 million, garnering support from prominent Gold sponsors, including Swire Shipping Pte Ltd, Swire Bulk, APM Terminals Japan, Arrow Sale & Purchase (UK) Ltd, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, Fleet Management Limited, Mitsui O.S.K Lines, and Ocean Network Express. The generous contributions and participation of 192 individuals from 19 countries showcased the global unity and commitment to this noble cause.
The funds raised through Adventure Race Japan will be used to support several key areas of The Mission to Seafarers’ operations. A significant portion will fund MtS’s ‘Emerging Port Strategy 2022-2026’, which aims to provide a strategic approach to new and existing operations in Asia, and globally.
Examples of where the ARJ funds will be allocated include funding more sustainable practices to reduce the environmental impact of MtS activities; the creation of more green spaces for seafarers at Seafarers Centres; and the establishment of Key Welfare Hubs in Singapore and Rotterdam to offer an enhanced service to seafarers on key shipping routes with a considerable through-put of seafarers.
The Mission to Seafarers’ successful Family Support Network in the Philippines and India will receive support, helping them to continue providing counselling, financial guidance, basic social and welfare services, transportation services, and training for seafarers and their families. More information can be found in the Mission’s Statement of Intent on how the money raised will be spent.
Jan Webber, MtS Director of Development, on behalf of the organising committee: “Adventure Race Japan 2023 exemplifies the power of collaboration and perseverance. It brings together diverse cultures and styles to champion the welfare of seafarers, a cause we hold dear. This event proved to be the most ambitious and successful event organised by a maritime welfare charity and certainly within the history of The Mission to Seafarers. Overcoming various challenges, the organising committee brought together diverse cultures and styles, uniting the international maritime community and the Japanese shipping industry in their shared commitment to seafarers’ welfare.”
Revd. Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “It was an absolute privilege for me to have attended, and taken part in, the incredible Adventure Race Japan. I was the oldest race competitor and can say from experience how very challenging it was – for those of all ages and abilities! My congratulations go to all who took part. To be in such a beautiful part of Japan was especially wonderful. Japanese maritime is such an important part of global shipping and this was a ground-breaking event for so many of its companies as well as for us at The Mission to Seafarers.
“As I struggled up the very steep slopes on the days of the challenge I was reminded of the parallels to our lives – and especially to those of seafarers. Life can often be an uphill struggle, especially so for seafarers in recent years. There are times when it feels as if you are going up steep and difficult hills. As with the challenge you need companionship, sustenance, and support. The Mission to Seafarers works to provide that for crew, and their families, all over the world. The event has been incredibly successful, both in terms of funds raised, and in terms of the building of new friendships and partnerships. My thanks go to all who took part, to all our magnificent sponsors and to all which have played a part in the inspiration and organisation of something so complex. The outcomes have surpassed all that we might have hoped.”
The ARJ organising committee included Tom Bonehill and Ken Hasui from Norstar, James Woodrow from Finlays, Sakura Kuma from APM Terminals, Chris Eve from Informa and MtS Japan Chairman, Maki Yoshida from Star Marine, Jan Webber, and Krishna Machado-Denne from MtS IHQ.
The event showcased a diverse participation from 19 countries, including 60 individuals from Japan-based companies and 57 from Singapore, making up a total of 192 athletes and 234 in attendance. Participants included 37 women and 155 men with ages ranging from 22 to 65, with notable participation from 13 individuals aged 60 and over.
Adventure Race Japan 2023 concluded as an extraordinary achievement, demonstrating the solidarity and commitment of the international maritime community and the Japanese shipping industry to seafarers’ well-being. The Mission to Seafarers is profoundly grateful to all participants, sponsors, and supporters who contributed to raising over US$1.3 million, with $900,000 allocated to front-line work. This remarkable success ensures the organisation’s continued efforts to provide vital assistance and support to seafarers worldwide.