平和島のボートレース場に初めて行ったら、レースに勝った!

ある日、AOLニュース編集部から電話があった。
「工藤さん、ボートレース取材に行ってもらえませんか?平和島あたりで。」
東京都大田区平和島。以前この近くに勤めていたことがあり、平和島にボートレース場があることと、そしてそのボートレース平和島の「モツ煮」がうまいらしいことを、噂で知っていた筆者は、二つ返事で答えた。
「行きましょう、モツ煮食いに!」
そう、当初は「うまいと噂のモツ煮」が目的で出かけた。だが、初めて目にするボートレースは、どこまでも奥深く、そして楽しいものだった。平和島を後にする頃には、すっかりボートレースの魅力にとりつかれていたのであった。


さてみなさん、「ボートレース」と聞いて、どんなイメージを持たれるだろうか。
「競馬」「競輪」「ボートレース」「オートレース」と4つの公営競技のうちのひとつで、モーターボートが競走して......、くらいは誰でも知っているが、その先となると、マニアックなギャンブルでおじさんたちが楽しんでいるモノ、といったイメージを持たれている方が多いのではないだろうか。
実をいうと、筆者もそのようにイメージしており、ボートレース場には、どこかシロウトには近寄りがたいような印象を抱いていた。
「モツ煮」もそうだ。おいしいという噂を聞いても、だからといってそのためにレース場に赴くことはなかった。

<ボートレース平和島にはJR大森駅から無料バスが出ている>

今回の誘いがなければ、一生このまま「ボートレース」に触れることなく過ごしていたかもしれない。
しかし、一度足を踏み入れてみると、「シロウトには近寄りがたい」というイメージは払拭された。

<まずなにより、目の前に広がる水面が美しい>

施設内はとてもキレイで、明るい。もっと暗くてガヤガヤとした、喧噪にまみれた場所だと思っていたが、取材当日は夏休みということもあるのか、子供連れやカップルの姿も見られた。なんだ、面白い場所じゃん。


この日は、筆者がボートレース初心者ということで、スタンド5階のロイヤルルームを特別に用意してもらった。ここで、ボートレースの競技の進め方と、舟券の買い方を教わることとなる。


ボートレースでは、舟券発売前に「展示走行」と呼ばれる、競馬でいうパドックのようなものが行われる。「スタート展示」と「周回展示」を見て、選手やモーターの調子を見る......とのことだが、初心者にはなかなか違いを見きわめられない。
けれども、それで問題ない。難しいことはわからなくとも、ボートレースは楽しめるのである。初心者のワタシが楽しめたんだから間違いない。

<スタート展示の様子。よくわからないが、わからなくても問題ない>

舟券は、マークシートで購入する。この辺は競馬と同じだ。毎レース6艇が出走し、その順位を予想する。1-2-3着を予想する3連単と1-2着を予想する2連単など、購入のルールも競馬などほかの公営競技に準ずる。


さて、ではどの舟券を買うか。ボートレースでは、選手の実力とモーターの実力が順位を左右する。選手の強さは当然として、モーターにも強いモーターとそうじゃないモーターがあるのだ。
同じメーカー(ヤマト発動機製)同じ規格のモーターを使用しているが、当たりというか、エンジンに使われる材料の微妙な差異とか、製造時のほんのわずかな状況の違いなどで、モーターの実力にも小さな差が生まれるのだ。
選手の勝率と、モーターの勝率を場内で無料配布されている出走表で見比べながら、勝敗を予想する。

<購入は銀行のATMみたいなマシンで行う>

<人生初の舟券購入>

さあ、いよいよ競走のスタートだ。
水面を滑るように進むボート。そのスピード感は想像以上だ。
そして、勝敗の鍵を握る最初のコーナー、第1ターンマークへと差し掛かると、選手たちは体重を移動させながらボートの向きを変える。
ほとんどスピードを落とさずに、気がつくとボートはコーナーを曲がっていた。



これはおもしろいぞ。
ボートレースはコースを3周して争われるが、そのスピード感がいい。
水しぶきを上げながら、波を味方に付けて進んでゆくボートは力強く、そして繊細な動きで、コースを周る。
これは舟券を買わずに見ていても楽しいし、買ったらもっと楽しい。
残念ながら初ボートレースは、ビギナーズラックとはいかずに外してしまったが、それでも楽しい。勝っていたらもっと楽しかったに違いないが、いずれにしても楽しいのだ。
楽しすぎて、腹がへった。当初のお目当てであった「モツ煮」を食おうではないか。


というわけで、平和島名物として知る人ぞ知る「はまかぜ」のモツ煮。
店内に入ると、モツがぐつぐつと大鍋で煮られている。モツ煮込みが単品で500円、モツ煮込みライスが700円。


空腹なのでライス付きを注文したが、このチョイスは正解だった。
汁をたっぷりと身にまとったモツたちが、ご飯によくあう。コメとモツを一緒に食べると、ジュワっとご飯に染みこむうま味がたまらない。
モツ煮を半分食べたところで、残りを汁ごとごはんの上にかけてみたが、さらにうま味は増幅して、こぼれんばかりになった。
これが噂のモツ煮か。なるほど。


さあて、腹も満たされたことだし、次のレースを、と思っていたところ、特別にピットを見学させてくれるという。
舞台裏でなにが行われているのか、そうそう見られるものではないので、よろこんでピットへと向かった。


ボートレースでは、選手自身がモーターとプロペラ(スクリュー)の整備を行う。
自動車のレース競技では、ドライバーがメカニックを兼ねるというのは、プロの世界では考えられない。もちろんそういった例は無くはないが、ごく一部だ。
しかし、ボートレースにおいては、モーターの整備スキルや、プロペラの調整能力も実力に直結しているのだ。


この話を聞いて、ますますボートレースに興味がわいてきた。
強い選手になるには、体力やボートのコントロールテクニックに加え、技術的な鍛錬も必要なのだ。なんと奥が深いことか!

<ピットの奥では選手たちがモーターのメンテナンスを行っていた>

<ピット脇のプロペラ調整室。水温などにあわせて、プロペラの特性を変えている>

「ボートレース」と聞くと、ただボートが早さを競っているだけのようなイメージを持ってしまうが、戦っているのは水の上だけではないのだ。
ピットアウトしてからの攻防は、その戦いの一部に過ぎない。ああ、なんとロマンあふれる競技なことか。


と、舞台裏を見学してすっかり興奮し、ますますボートレースにのめり込んでしまった。
ボートレースは1日12レースあるのだが、そのほとんどで舟券を購入してしまったのだが、そのうち、第6レースで勝つことができた!
勝ったといっても、620円なのだが、初勝利の喜びは大きい。

<本当は1万円札をガバーッとやるくらい勝ちたかったのだが......>

取材を忘れて、すっかり楽しんでしまったが、まだ楽しみ足りない、と思っていたら、「次はバニラビーンズカップどうですか? 女性レーサーも参加しますよ」との誘いが。
8/31(土)、9/1(日)に開催されるバニラビーンズカップとは、アイドルの「バニラビーンズ」とボートレースがコラボレーションしたイベントで、アイドルのライブとボートレース、両方楽しめるのだという。
そして、バニラビーンズカップの舞台となるボートレース多摩川には、「牛炊(ぎゅうすい)」という名物があるらしい。
これは、行かぬ手はあるまい。

(工藤考浩)

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【ロンドンオリンピック2012】 2大会連続の銅メダル獲得!! 競泳 - 松田丈志
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平和島のボートレース場に初めて行ったら、レースに勝った!

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Chad le Clos (R) of South Africa touches out Takeshi Matsuda of Japan to win the gold medal in the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England. Matsuda won Bronze and Michael Phelps of the UNited States won silver.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Chad le Clos of South Africa touches to win the gold ahead of bronze medallist Takeshi Matsuda of Japan in the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Takeshi Matsuda of Japan reacts after winning the bronze in the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Takeshi Matsuda of Japan reacts after winning the bronze in the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States, gold medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa and bronze medallist Takeshi Matsuda of Japan pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Bronze medallist Takeshi Matsuda of Japan poses with the medal won in the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

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