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You Don’t Have To See To Cross the Pacific
It took two attempts and nearly two months on the water for 52-year-old blind Japanese sailor, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto, to successfully sail nonstop from San Diego in the United States to Iwaki in Japan. After failing to achieve his dream in 2013 when his boat capsized and sank, Mitsuhiro is thrilled that he was finally successful this year. After he conquered the Pacific Ocean, Iwamoto proclaimed himself to be “the happiest person on earth.”
What Dreams Are Made Of
Mitsuhiro and his sighted navigator, 55-year-old American Douglas Smith set off from the West Coast of the United States on 24 February in Mitsuhiro’s 12-meter yacht Dream Weaver. The pair sailed for 55 days before arriving in Iwaki harbour in Japan on 20 April. This phenomenal achievement made Iwamoto the first person to triumph over the Pacific Ocean through blind sailing, which involves a visually impaired sailor steering a sailboat as a partner who is able to see describes conditions and the environment.
An Unfortunate Collision With a Whale
When Mitsuhiro previously attempted to cross the Pacific Ocean, he sailed with TV anchor Jiro Shinbo from Iwaki to San Diego. Shortly after the pair set sail, Iwamoto’s sailboat crashed into a whale and they had to be rescued by the Japanese Self-Defence Forces as the boat sank. Despite this misfortune, Mitsuhiro remained positive about eventually achieving his goal and eventually achieved victory.
Conquering More Than The Ocean
Originally from Kumamoto Prefecture, Imamoto Mitsuhiro lost the ability to see while he was in high school. Not allowing this tragedy to hold him back in life, Mitsuhiro became an acupuncturist and relocated to the United States where he was married to an American woman. The couple began sailing together and Mitsuhiro became a competitor in the Blind Sailing World Championship. Smith, Mitsuhiro’s navigator, has had no experience in sailing and signed up simply because the blind sailor inspired him.
You can read an interview with Mitsuhiro here.