Helping develop ocean racing in Japan
Published on February 18th, 2019
As the first Asian competitor to take part in the Vendee Globe, Kojiro Shiraishi was one of the stand-out figures in the headline event of the 2016 IMOCA circuit. But Shiraishi was forced to retire after dismasting 29 days into the race, and now the Japanese sailor wants to finish the job.
Shiraishi will be trying his luck again in the 2020 edition of the solo round the world race with a new VPLP designed boat that’s due to leave the Multiplast yard in September.
“It was a huge honour to be the first Asian to compete in the Vendée Globe. Now, I want to become the first to finish it. It’s the only race that strengthens my resolve and pushes back my limits.”
Shiraishi is eager to take what he learned and put it into his latest effort. “It was a challenge taking part in the Vendée Globe with such little preparation and this experience has enabled me to progress. I made lots of great friends and I really loved the way that all my fellow sailors welcomed me in the IMOCA circuit.”
He also hopes to help develop ocean racing in Japan.
“Before competing in the Vendée Globe, few people knew this type of race existed. I managed to spotlight this fantastic event and more generally the world of ocean racing. That enabled me to find a new sponsor, DMG Mori, but also to build up a new team of youngsters with Simon Suzuki and Federico Sampe, who were part of Kaijin Team Japan in the campaign for the Youth America’s Cup. They are very young and really want to work on my project.”
On whether Asian sailors may be interested in joining the IMOCA class, he is optimistic. “Besides these two youngsters who are working with me on the Vendée Globe campaign, I also know a Japanese sailor who is trying to take part in the next Mini Transat, Masa Suzuki. So let’s hope that one day, other Asians will join the IMOCA class.”