Boat racing is a sport in which male and female players compete in the same race. For this reason, the minimum weight limit for male athletes is 51 kg and for women 47 kg. Most male athletes lose weight drastically to get close to 51 kg, while smaller, smaller female athletes suffer from weight gain through diet and training. If the numbers fall below the minimum weight limit during pre-race weight measurement, the racer must wear weight-adjusting clothing, commonly known as the "orange vest." The negative impact of weighted vests on boat maneuvering can be significant, with some players reluctant to wear even a weight of only 500g.
At 145cm, Yukari Higuchi is a small player among female racers. She says her weigh was about 40kg before she became a racer and she now weighs about 43kg. She says it is not realistic to gain another 4kg and move up to the weight limit of 47kg so Higuchi races whilst wearing an orange weight vest. Her current weight is 45kg and weight adjustments are 2kg.
"In the past, I increased my weight to 47 kg with just meals but I just got fat and my body did not move as expected in the race. After trial and error, I concluded that the extra weight was fine up to 2 kg. Heavily heavier vests have a negative impact on maneuvering, so she keeps her weight at 45kg and so far she has adjusted her weight just by controlling her diet and recently she has added with strength training. With a certain amount of muscle, her weight has stabilized.
In boat racing, the lighter the body weight, the smaller the water contact area of the boat, the lower the water resistance and the easier it is to accelerate. With that in mind, a lighter female racer should be able to race in better conditions, but the advantage comes at a price.
The most noticeable downside is probably the turn. Lightweight athletes have difficulty stabilizing their hull during turns because the center of gravity is in front of the seating position in the boat. For lighter female racers, this means they have less control over the boat than the male racers. The handicap is even for Higuchi. In boat racing, all racers are on the same size boat, so most of the common techniques and know-how acquired by average-height players do not apply to petite racers like Higuchi.
"There are many things that are difficult to do because of my short height. When I sit in the same position as other athletes, I can't reach the steering wheel and I have a limited range of weight transfer. I don't want to say that I couldn’t do a Monkey Turn at first but after much practice, little by little I could.
Higuchi has been consistently producing results for the ten years since her 2008 debut, but says she still has a lot of skills to wear. In order to keep up with the top racers, she continues to study driving that makes use of her strength, which is her lightness.
“I'm small and I'm different from other players in the way I get on a boat. To win on the same playing field, I have to find a completely new way of riding. If you find the best turning technique, you will be able to compete equally with the top racers and you should be able to go faster in the straights due to with my weight. It's a big challenge that I have to complete to go further.”
Yukari Higuchi (Yukari Higuchi born on January 19, 1988) She is one of the smallest women racers and has great physical and mental strength.