A 41-year-old Japanese yachtsman will compete in an unprecedented international yacht race for the fastest time around the world with no limits on boat or crew sizes, scheduled to begin in Spain on Dec. 31, the last day of the century. Toru Kikuchi will sail in what is probably the world’s toughest yacht competition, simply dubbed “The Race.” It was proposed by French adventurer Bruno Peyron, and so far nine teams from around the world have announced they will compete. Kikuchi is the only Japanese competing. Kikuchi will be one of 14 crew members aboard a large twin-hulled vessel named Club Med, sponsored by the French resort operator. The yacht is 33.5 meters in length with a 41.5-meter mast, as tall as a 10-story building. Its top speed is roughly 74 kph by wind power alone. There are no restrictions on a yacht’s size or its number of crew in The Race. The only stipulation is that vessels must sail nonstop around the world. Currently, the fastest record for a yacht voyage around the globe is 71 days, 14 hours and 22 minutes. It is expected that a new world record will be set at around 60 days. Crew members are expected to sleep just four hours a day and must pilot their yachts on a 24-hour basis. They are also likely to face rough weather while navigating the Antarctic Ocean. Kikuchi has made a number of achievements in numerous international yacht regattas, including setting the record for the fastest trans-Pacific voyage with Peyron in 1998. “Considering my age, this race may be my last,” said Kikuchi. “I want to tell Japanese children how wonderful it is to complete the race by wind-power alone.” After setting off from Barcelona in Spain, teams will sail via Cape Town, South Africa, then south of Australia to Chile’s Cape Horn to the finish point in Marseilles, France. The winning team will receive $2 million.
Japanese to enter epic yacht race