Senior completes solo Pacific crossing

Mari YamaguchiAP
At 83, Japanese sailor Kenichi Horie is now the oldest to sail solo and non-stop across the Pacific.
Camera IconAt 83, Japanese sailor Kenichi Horie is now the oldest to sail solo and non-stop across the Pacific. Credit: AP

Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie has become the oldest person in the world to complete a solo, nonstop voyage across the Pacific Ocean -- and he says he is still "in the middle of my youth" and not done yet.

Horie, 83, returned home as he crossed the Kii Strait off Japan's western coast early on Saturday, completing his trans-Pacific solo voyage in 69 days after leaving San Francisco in late March.

On Sunday, after spending the night on his 19-foot-long, 990-kilogram Suntory Mermaid III just off the coast, Horie was towed into his home port of Shin Nishinomiya yacht harbor, where he was cheered by local residents and supporters.

As he approached the harbour, Horie, standing in his boat, took off his white cap and waved. Then he got off the boat, took off the cap again and bowed deeply on the pier before he was presented with bouquets of roses.

"Thank you for waiting!" said Horie, tanned and with his white hair longer than usual.

He carried a stock of medicine from San Francisco, he said, but only used eye drops and band-aids during his more than two months alone at sea.

"That shows how healthy I am," Horie said. "I'm still in the middle of my youth."

He said he "burned all my body and soul" on the journey but says he's ready for more.

"I will keep up my work to be a late bloomer," he said.

It was the latest record-setting achievement for the octogenarian adventurer, who in 1962 became the first person in the world to successfully complete a solo nonstop voyage across the Pacific from Japan to San Francisco.

Sixty years later, he travelled the opposite route.

Soon after his departure from San Francisco, he was faced with a storm, but the weather gradually improved and he reached Hawaii in mid-April ahead of schedule.

He had some struggles toward the end with a few days of pushback from a strong tide.

He wrote on his blog on Friday that he had succeeded but was exhausted, and he took a nap after feeling assured that his yacht was on the right track to the finish line.

Horie has completed other long-distance solo voyages, including sailing around the world in 1974. His latest expedition was the first since his 2008 solo nonstop voyage on a wave-powered boat from Hawaii to the Kii Strait.

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