He was one of the stand-out figures in the 2016 Vendée Globe. The first Asian competitor to take part in the headline event in the IMOCA circuit, Kojiro Shiraishi was forced to retire after dismasting. The Japanese sailor would like to finish the job and will be trying his luck again in 2020 with a brand new boat, DMG Mori, a VPLP designed boat, which is due to leave the Multiplast yard in September. Meanwhile, Kojiro is learning about foilers by following a training programme organised by Roland Jourdain for two months aboard Morgan Lagravière’s former Safran.
What led you to return to the IMOCA circuit and in particular the 2020 Vendée Globe?
“Because I was forced to retire from the 2016 Vendée Globe 2016 and I want to finish what I started. 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.”
What are your memories of your first attempt at the Vendée Globe in 2016?
“They are fantastic, even if I was forced to retire after dismasting. It was a challenge taking part in the Vendée Globe with such little preparation. 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.”
“Let’s hope that other Asians will join the IMOCA class”
What impact did your project have in Japan, where ocean racing has not yet really developed?
“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.”
“Building a powerful, simple and reliable IMOCA”
Do you know with whom you will be competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre? What will you be aiming for in this race?
“I’m still thinking about my choice ofco-skipper. The aim won’t be to push the boat hard, but to sail her safely to the finish. Particularly as to qualify for the Vendée Globe, I need to finish the race. That will therefore be the main goal in the Transat Jacques Vabre.”
What has happened to the boat on which you took part in the 2016 Vendée Globe? Has she been sold?
“Spirit of Yukoh has been up for sale for several months. We have been in serious talks with a skipper whose name I cannot reveal. I hope to be able to sell the boat rapidly and then focus entirely on the next Vendée Globe.”