Ex-SDF Member Sets Round-the-World Sailing Record; Hirotsugu Kimura, Youngest Japanese to Make Nonstop Solo Voyage

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hirotsugu Kimura waves from his yacht Miranda off Wakayama Prefecture on Saturday.

A 24-year-old former Self-Defense Forces member on Saturday became the youngest Japanese to sail nonstop around the world alone on a yacht.

Hirotsugu Kimura reached a point in the Kii Suido channel off Hinomisaki cape in Wakayama Prefecture — the location he set as the goal of his journey — at about 2:40 p.m. on Saturday, breaking the record held by marine adventurer Kojiro Shiraishi, who achieved the feat 30 years ago at the age of 26 years and 10 months in March 1994.

Kimura completed the solo sail to travel about 52,000 kilometers in 231 days after leaving a yacht harbor in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Oct. 22 last year in his 12.5-meter craft Miranda. Eating food he prepared himself in advance as well as utilizing solar power and other equipment, Kimura did not stop any ports and did not receive any supplies during his journey.

Offshore on Saturday, Kimura was met by members of the company supporting him and others on a vessel that blew its horn in celebration.

“I’m so happy and feel relieved,” Kimura said over the phone. “More than anything, it’s good to be back alive.”