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Japanese man, 83, ready for more after solo crossing of Pacific

Kenichi Horie completed his trans-Pacific voyage in 69 days after leaving a yacht harbour in San Francisco in late March.

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Japanese octogenarian adventurer Kenichi Horie arrives in Nishinomiya after completing his solo non-stop voyage across the Pacific in 69 days (Kosuke Moriwaki/Kyodo News/AP)

Japanese octogenarian adventurer Kenichi Horie arrives in Nishinomiya after completing his solo non-stop voyage across the Pacific in 69 days (Kosuke Moriwaki/Kyodo News/AP)

Japanese octogenarian adventurer Kenichi Horie arrives in Nishinomiya after completing his solo non-stop voyage across the Pacific in 69 days (Kosuke Moriwaki/Kyodo News/AP)

An 83-year-old Japanese adventurer has become the oldest person in the world to complete a solo, non-stop voyage across the Pacific Ocean – and said he is still “in the middle of my youth” and not done yet.

Kenichi Horie crossed the Kii Strait off Japan’s western coast early on Saturday, completing his trans-Pacific solo voyage in 69 days after leaving a yacht harbour 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 into his home port of Shin Nishinomiya, where he was cheered by local residents and supporters, some holding banners that read: “Welcome back, Mr Kenichi Horie!”

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

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

AP/PA Images

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

As he approached the harbour, Mr Horie, standing in his boat, took off his white cap and waved. Then he got off the boat, took the cap off again and bowed deeply on the pier before he was presented with bouquets of roses.

“Thank you for waiting!” said the elderly sailor, tanned and with his white hair longer than usual.

He carried a stock of medicine from San Francisco, he said, but only used eye drops and plasters during his more than two months alone at sea.

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

He said he “burned all my body and soul” on the journey but that he is ready for more.

“I will keep up my work to be a late bloomer,” he said.

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

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

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

AP/PA Images

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

Sixty years later, he travelled the route in the opposite direction.

Soon after his departure from San Francisco, he was faced with a storm, but the weather gradually improved and he reached Hawaii in mid-April, ahead of schedule.

He had some struggles toward the end with a few days of pushback from a strong tide.

He wrote on his blog on Friday that he had succeeded but was exhausted, and he took a nap after feeling assured that his yacht was on the right track to the finish line.

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


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