‘Wave’ of the future?

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It took a little less than four months for veteran sailor Kenichi Horie to make it across the Pacific in Suntory Mermaid II, his “wave-powered” 31-foot catamaran made of recycled aluminum sheets, according to Sail-World.com.

The 69-year-old solo sailor started his 3,800-nautical-mile journey March 16 from Honolulu and arrived in his homeland of Japan July 4 at the port of Wakayama in the channel between Honshu and Shikoku islands. He admits the journey took longer than anticipated, but was pleased to have completed it, according to the report.

Horie’s boat works on the theory of a rocking chair, with two fins on the front of the boat that move back and forth propelling it forward. The device also can be likened to how a dolphin or whale’s tail generates thrust force by moving up and down with the waves. Horie’s original theory anticipated the boat to move at three knots, but in reality it was about 1.5 knots, according to the report. Still, Horie’s successful journey could be the dawn of another successful form of eco-friendly technology.

Horie is well-acquainted with “green” innovations. Born in 1938 in Osaka, Japan, he caught the local public eye when he solo-sailed across the Pacific from Nishinomiya, Japan, to San Francisco in Mermaid, a 19-foot sailboat, in 1962. In 2002, he repeated the voyage in Malt’s Mermaid II, a replica of the first sailboat made out of recycled whiskey barrels. He also has crossed oceans in pedal-powered and solar-powered vessels, according to the report. For information, visit http://www1.suntory-mermaid2.com/english/index.html

— Elizabeth Ellis