Blind Japanese sailor completes first nonstop Pacific crossing | News | DW | 20.04.2019
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Blind Japanese sailor completes first nonstop Pacific crossing

A 52-year-old man has become the first sightless person to sail across the Pacific. He had help from his friend and "Seeing Eye Doug."

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto celebrates with his navigator Doug Smith after successfully crossing the Pacific. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto celebrates with his navigator, Doug Smith, after successfully crossing the Pacific. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto became the first sightless person on record to cross the Pacific Ocean by boat on Saturday, local media reported.

"I didn't give up and I made my dream come true," Iwamoto was quoted by Kyodo News in Japan as saying.

The 52-year-old sailed his 12-meter (40-foot) yacht from San Diego on the west coast of the United States, where he lives, to Japan, where he was born.

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The sailor arrived at the port in Fukushima on Saturday, roughly two months after he left California. "I'm home. Thank you," he said as he greeted his welcome party.

Iwamoto completed the 14,000 kilometer (8,700 mile) Pacific crossing with the help of Doug Smith, an American navigator whom Iwamoto called his "Seeing Eye Doug." He offered verbal assistance with wind directions.

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Having lost his sight at age 16, Iwamoto made the trip to raise funds for charity, including initiatives to prevent diseases causing blindness. An online crowdfunding campaign raised $4,300 (€3,800) in support of the journey.

Iwamoto is an experienced sailor, having competed in the US and Japan for more than 10 years. He first attempted the voyage in 2013, but it was cut short when a blue whale collided with his yacht and sank it.

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mc/jm (AFP)



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