When Kojiro Shiraishi sailed Spirit of yukoh across the finish line this evening, he did so with his characteristic grin plastered across his weather-beaten face. The smile belied what had been a long and arduous passage from South Africa, but it was nothing Kojiro had not been expecting. After all he has sailed this way before, in 1993/4 when, at the age of 26, he became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world single-handed and non-stop. It's a part of the world that he is familiar with and one that he enjoys.
Kojiro does not speak much English, but he is one of those rare individuals who can communicate perfectly well using a few words and a rich body language. He was greeted on the dock by all of the Around Alone skippers who cheered for the one they have nicknamed Code Zero. Shortly thereafter Koji sat down to a nice sushi meal, his first fresh meal in weeks.
Kojiro's arrival brings to an end a busy day of arrivals that started with Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal in the wee hours of the morning followed by Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada just after lunch. It's incredible to see three boats finishing so close after transiting one of the wildest stretches of water in the world, and almost six weeks of sailing. The competition is fierce and none of these sailors gave an inch until well across the finish line.