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He did it! Horie has crossed Pacific by Wave Power

by Nancy Knudsen on 7 Jul 2008
Kenichi Horie on his waveboat SW
He's done it! As reported in Sail-World in March, Japanese master sailor and environmentalist Kenichi Horie set off on March 16 this year, on a first-of-a-kind trans-Pacific voyage powered only by waves.

The 69-year-old solo yachtsman and his boat made from recycled materials embarked on the 3800nm trip from Honolulu bound for Japan, expecting to arrive 'sometime in May'. Well it took longer than he thought, but on July 04, he did it, arriving at the port of Wakayama in the channel between Honshu and Shikoku Islands, just before midnight, thus becoming the first person in history to cross and ocean powered by wave power.

His 9.5m double-hull boat, made partly of recycled aluminium, named Suntory Mermaid II, was equipped with two special fins at the front that move like a dolphin's tail each time the boat rises or falls with the rhythm of the waves.

The theory said that that a vertical motion could drive the boat forward at a speed of three knots. In the event, he averaged 1.5 knots, not the fastest way to travel, but it could spell the dawning of yet another innovative green way of transiting oceans.

'Throughout history, mankind has used wind for power, but no one has appeared to be serious about wave power,' Mr Horie said late last year.

'I think I'm a lucky boy as this wave power system has remained virtually untouched.'

About Kenichi Horie:

Mr Horie made international headlines in 1962 when he became the first person to sail solo across the Pacific to San Francisco at the age of 23. on arrival in San Francisco without a visa, he was first arrested, but when the Mayor found out what he had just done, he pardoned him, gave him not only a visa, but the Keys of the City.

He had left on the three-month voyage despite also breaking Japanese law, which at the time did not allow its citizens to sail on their own out of the country.

Since then, he has made 10 sailing trips across the Pacific and around the world, many of them in extraordinary vesseld.

In the seventies, he did two 'fairly normal' solo circumnavigations, the first from east to west , then from north to south.

However, long before it was fashionable, he started favouring natural ways of transportation:

In the eighties he sailed a solar boat from Hawaii to Chichijima. In the nineties he sailed from Hawaii to Okinawa in a pedal powered boat, and then from Ecuador to Tokyo in a solar boat made of recycled aluminum. This crossing covered 10,000 miles in 148 days which earned the Guinness World Record for the fastest ever crossing of the Pacific in a solar-powered boat.

Then, in 1999 he sailed from San Francisco to Japan aboard a boat made primarily from recycled materials. The boat, Malt's Mermaid II, was a 32ft catamaran constructed from 500 beer kegs. The rigging consisted of two side-by-side masts with junk rig sails made from recycled plastic bottles. This boat is on display Okura Beach, Akashi.

In 2002 he sailed from Nishinomiya to San Francisco aboard the Mermaid III, which was a replica of the original Mermaid constructed from a variety of recycled materials, including whiskey barrels for the hull, aluminum cans for the mast and plastic soda bottles for the sails.

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