Clagett congratulates blind sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto on his historic achievement
Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta
It took two tries but Japanese sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto became the first blind sailor to conquer the Pacific Ocean by sailing non stop from San Deigo, California to Iwaki, Japan.
The blind sailor abandoned his first attempt in 2013 when he had to be rescued after his boat collided with a whale and sank.
This time around, Iwamoto spent nearly two months completing his voyage aboard his 40-footer Dream Weaver, assisted by his American sighted navigator, Doug Smith. Iwamoto arrived in Iwaki harour on April 20, 2019 after having spent 55 days at sea.
The 52-year-old, who lost his sight when he was a high school student, originally attempted the feat with Jiro Shinbo, a TV anchor, in June of 2013. However, the duo hit a whale shortly after leaving Onahama Port in Iwaki and the two had to be rescued by the Japanese Self-Defense Force.
The acupuncturist moved to the United States where he married an American and they took up sailing together.
Iwanoto has competed at The Clagett in Newport in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 at the Blind Nationals at Sail Newport and the Blind Sailing World Championship.
“This is an amazing achievement for any sailor and for Mitsuhiro to accomplish this without his sight makes it all the more incredible,” commented Judy Clagett McLennan, Clagett president and co founder.
Smith, who is married to a Japanese and has no prior experience in sailing, said he signed up for Iwamoto’s undertaking to cross the Pacific because he was inspired by the blind sailor’s quest.