Yachtsman Kenichi Horie, who has twice circumnavigated the globe, will take up a new challenge in October 2004 when he embarks on a solo nonstop voyage around the world eastbound around Cape Horn in a boat made of recycled materials.

Horie, 64, said he will sail the 13-meter yacht Suntory Mermaid about 50,000 km in seven to eight months. Departing from Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, he will travel southeastward east of Hawaii, around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, and then through the Tasman Sea and up past Guam.

“As I am sailing with the blessing of many past voyagers, beginning with (Ferdinand) Magellan, who first sailed around the world, I would like to pay my respects to them with this voyage,” Horie told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

“The most important purpose of my voyages is to enjoy sailing,” he said. “In addition, I’ll be happy if I can spread an environmental message.”

In 1974, Horie made his first successful solo nonstop round-the-world trip on a westbound voyage around Cape Horn, becoming the first Japanese and the world’s fourth person to do so. If he succeeds in the eastbound trip next year, he will be the second person, after Australian Jonathan Sanders, to complete such trips in both directions.

Horie, a seven-time trans-Pacific sailor, in 1982 also completed a voyage around the world longitudinally.

His trip is being sponsored by beverage maker Suntory Ltd. and supported by the Chilean Embassy in Japan. Ambassador Demetrio Infante said the Chilean Navy will assist Horie when he sails through Chilean territorial waters off Cape Horn.

The 4.5-ton Suntory Mermaid, currently under construction, will use corrosion-proof recycled aluminum for the hull and polyester fiber recycled from plastic bottles for the sail.

It is specially designed with a long, slim hull just 2.4 meters wide for speed, designer Ichiro Yokoyama said. Solar panels will provide electric power.

During the voyage, Horie will conduct environmental contamination surveys, including testing the acidity of rainwater, in a joint project with Tokai University on global warming.

He also plans to exchange e-mail and speak by satellite phone with schoolchildren in Japan.

Horie said he plans to sail around Cape Horn in early January 2005, around the Cape of Good Hope in mid-February and past Tasmania in early April before returning to his starting point at Shin-Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor in late May that year.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.