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Never-say-die Minaru Saito is off again to complete circumnavigation

by Sail-World Cruising on 27 Dec 2009
Minoru Saito - already well recognised by the sailing world SW
Minoru Saito, the 75-year-old seven times circumnavigator from Japan, on his eighth circumnavigation, is almost ready to take to the water again from Punta Arenas in Chile.

In April this year, his yacht Shuten-dohji II was disabled in the wild weather and ten metre seas south of Cape Horn, and he was towed by a Chilean factory ship the NBSDIII to Punta Arenas.

At the time Minoru resisted any attempt to be rescued himself and abandon his yacht. He then spent the winter repairing his yacht to continue his journey, with the help of a small team of volunteers, Hitoshi Hanaoke, Rose Bliss, Pablo Pineida and Gonzalo Stewart.

The repairs were many and complex and ranged everything from mechanical to electrical to sailing gear. His main sponsor Nicole BMW was instrumental through provision of emergency funds and assistance for several deliveries (sail, radar magnetron, Harken furler, etc.).

He then set out again, but engine and sail problems forced him to return again to Punta Arenas in November,

When he departs Punta Arenas for the second time, Saito-san is making arrangements to be accompanied westward in the Strait of Magellan by a second vessel, for a passage expected to take about 30 hours, after which he will enter the Southern Pacific Ocean to restart the circumnavigation in the Southern Pacific Ocean.

He will thus resume his circumnavigation attempt from the point of furthest progress.

He will not need to make a third Cape Horn passage, and after returning through the strait will be able to continue up the rugged western coast of Chile on the northward-flowing Humboldt Current.

While you are never home until you are home, Minoru Saito's crossing of the Pacific to his home in Japan could be expected to be an easier journey.

Saito-san already holds the Guinness Record as the oldest person to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe by sailing boat. While not as recognised in his home country of Japan, Saito-san has been much revered in the world of sailing.

In January, 2007, he received the 2006 Blue Water Medal awarded to one outstanding sailor each year by the Cruising Club of America. This recognition is considered the top international award for adventure sailing.

He was also inducted in 2006 into the Single-handed Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, joining such solo sailing luminaries as Joshua Slocum (1844-1909); Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (1939-)

To follow the completion of his latest sailing journey, go to his!website

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