23-year-old Japanese begins round-the-world yacht journey

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hirotsugu Kimura poses for photo on a yacht in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo (Jiji Press) — A 23-year-old man set sail from Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, on Saturday, aiming to become the youngest Japanese to sail nonstop around the world alone on a yacht.

Hirotsugu Kimura, a corporate employee in Nishinomiya, will head south in the Pacific Ocean before traveling eastward, sailing some 45,000 kilometers over six months.

The current Japanese record for the youngest round-the-world yacht trip of 26 years and 10 months is held by marine adventurer Kojiro Shiraishi, 55.

“I finally got the feeling that I’ll be traveling around the world after I came to the venue,” Kimura said at a press conference before starting his journey from a yacht harbor. “I want to accomplish it so that I can know my limits.”

“I want to enjoy the ocean, the blue sky and the scenery of nature,” he added. About 80 friends and colleagues gathered at the port for his departure.

Kimura, born in Hiji, Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, joined his high school yacht club and came in 15th place at a national competition in his third year.

He began dreaming of sailing around the world after watching Shiraishi competing in a yacht race on television.

Kimura joined the Maritime Self-Defense Force after graduating from high school, but his desire to achieve a round-the-world trip grew as he sailed on yachts on his days off.

He was able to begin his challenge thanks to support from the president of Kimura’s current employer, who was one of his yacht friends.