Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Blind Japanese sailor first to complete non-stop Pacific voyage

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto made the voyage to raise funds for charity

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto celebrates with his navigator Doug Smith after successfully completing a near two-month, non-stop voyage from San Diego to Fukushima. Reuters
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto celebrates with his navigator Doug Smith after successfully completing a near two-month, non-stop voyage from San Diego to Fukushima. Reuters

A blind Japanese sailor completed his non-stop Pacific voyage on Saturday, reportedly making him the first sightless person to navigate a vessel across the vast ocean.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto arrived at port in Fukushima in his 12-metre (40-foot) sailboat on Saturday morning, around two months after he left California.

Mr Iwamoto, a 52-year-old San Diego resident, sailed from the US city on February 24 with Doug Smith, an American navigator who gave him verbal guidance, advising him on wind directions and potential hazards.

This was his second attempt after his initial voyage was cut short six years ago when his yacht hit a whale and sank.

"I'm home. Thank you," Mr Iwamoto told the welcoming party after his yacht sailed into Fukushima, ending a journey of some 14,000 kilometres.

"I didn't give up and I made a dream come true," Mr Iwamoto said. It was the first Pacific crossing by a blind sailor, Kyodo News said.

Mr Iwamoto, who lost his sight at the age of 16, made the voyage to raise funds for charity, including efforts to prevent diseases that cause blindness.

Updated: April 21, 2019 11:12 AM

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