Mitsuhiro Iwamoto Becomes First Blind Sailor to Complete Non-Stop Pacific Crossing
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto, a blind Japanese sailor, has become the first visually impaired person that completed a non-stop Pacific crossing, reports say.
The 52-year-old sailed the 8,700-mile crossing with the help of a sighted navigator.
His 40 ft yacht made port in Fukushima on April 20, ending his two-month trip.
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto left California on February 24 with Doug Smith, an American navigator who assisted him.
His first attempt at the journey in 2013 ended in failure after his boat struck a whale and sank. He had to be rescued by the Japanese military.
Speaking at the port of Iwaki, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto told Japan’s Kyodo News that completing the challenge on his second attempt was a “dream come true”.
“I’m the happiest person on earth,” Mitsuhiro Iwamoto said, according to the news agency.
The Japanese, who lost his sight aged 16, steered the vessel while Doug Smith gave him verbal guidance, advising him on wind directions and potential hazards.
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto is the first blind person to successfully sail across the Pacific without stopping, the Japan Blind Sailing Association says.
Determined to make the crossing second time around, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto – a Japanese citizen who currently lives in San Diego – took part in triathlons.
Mitsuhiro Iwamoto and Doug Smith made the voyage to raise money for charity and for efforts to prevent diseases that cause blindness.