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Japanese Blind Sailor Makes First Non-Stop Pacific Crossing

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A blind Japanese sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto has completed a non-stop Pacific crossing, reportedly making him the first visually impaired person to do so.

Iwamoto, 52, sailed the 8,700-mile (14,000 km) crossing with the help of a sighted navigator, Doug Smith.

His 12m (40 ft) yacht made port in Fukushima Saturday morning, ending his two-month trip.

He left California Sunday, 24th February with his 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 was then rescued by the Japanese Military.

Speaking at the port of Iwaki, Iwamoto told journalist that completing the challenge on his second attempt was a “dream come true”. He restated: “I’m the happiest person on earth,”

Mr Iwamoto, who lost his sight at age 16, steered the vessel while Mr Smith gave him verbal guidance, advising him on wind directions and potential hazards.

According to the Japan Blind Sailing Association, Iwamoto is the first blind person to successfully sail across the Pacific without stopping.

Determined to make the crossing second time around, Mr Iwamoto – a Japanese citizen who currently lives in San Diego – took part in triathlons.

“We undertake this voyage not only for personal accomplishment, but to send a message that anything is possible when people come together,” Iwamoto wrote on his website.

He and Mr Smith made the voyage to raise money for charity and for efforts to prevent diseases that cause blindness./BBC


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