83-year-old Japanese man ready for more after solo Pacific crossing

An 83-year-old Japanese adventurer has become the oldest person in the world to make a solo, non-stop trip across the Pacific Ocean – and says he was still ‘in the middle of my youth’ and that he hadn’t finished yet.

Kenichi Horie crossed the Kii Strait off the west coast of Japan early Saturday, completing his solo trans-Pacific journey in 69 days after leaving a marina in San Francisco in late March.

On Sunday, after spending the night on his 19ft (5.8m), 2,182lb (990kg) Suntory Mermaid III just off the coast, he was towed to his home port of Shin Nishinomiya, where he was cheered by local residents and supporters, some holding banners that read: “Welcome, Mr. Kenichi Horie!”

Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie has successfully completed his solo, non-stop voyage across the Pacific in 69 days, becoming the oldest person to complete the milestone (Kyodo New/AP)

Approaching the port, Mr. Horie, standing in his boat, took off his white cap and waved his hand. Then he got off the boat, took off the bonnet and bowed deeply on the pier before he was presented with bouquets of roses.

“Thanks for the wait!” said the old sailor, tanned and with his white hair longer than usual.

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

“It shows how healthy I am,” he said. “I’m still in the middle of my youth.”

He said he was “burning my whole body and soul” on the trip but was ready for more.

“I will continue my work to be a latecomer,” he said.

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

Japan Transpacific Sailing
Kenichi Horie celebrated his achievement in Nishinomiya, western Japan (Ichiro Sakano/Kyodo News/AP)

Sixty years later, he travels the road in the opposite direction.

Shortly after leaving San Francisco he encountered a storm, but the weather gradually improved and he reached Hawaii in mid-April, earlier than expected.

He had some difficulties towards the end with a few days back due to a strong tide.

He wrote on his blog on Friday that he had made it but was exhausted, and he took a nap after making sure his yacht was on course to the finish line.

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

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