Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi crossed the finish line of the inaugural Retour à La Base in 18th position this Tuesday, December 12, at 08:11:55hrs, squeezing inside the top 20 at the end of a race on which he sailed conservatively and had several technical and health issues to deal with. Because he had to retire from the Route du Rhum after only a few hours just over one year ago, the Retour à La Base was a race that ‘Koji’ had to start and to finish to get his Vendée Globe qualification back on  track. An attack of gastric flu left him very low on energy through the second half of the race. And an ingress of water into the electrical system which drives the keel canting system meant he did most of the race with the keel centred. 

Back in solo mode after a decent Transat Jacques Vabre – that was in fact his first ever two handed race – Koji goes well in the early part of the race, finding his way well with the new, more powerful foils that were fitted to the 2019 VPLP design which was built from the same moulds as the former Charal.

He is ‘in the match’, ahead of Romain Attanasio and Pip Hare in the early part of the race, going well on the 900 mile northwards climb. But he suffers an electrical fault and hydraulic leaks. The hydraulic leak nearly causes a fire “I definitely smelled a strange burning smell,” relates , still smiling as usual but stressed as he had had no computers “That was a bit like running in the dark with blinkers on,” he recalled. 

It takes him nine hours to make the repairs and he loses touch with the group he was with. He was still 15th as he approached the Azores, though but errs south of the pack to keep out of the worst of the weather.  “I am in safety above all else mode I have small problems, but nothing big". And then he is caught in a windless calm behind the front. And physically he finds it all quite tough, he has bad toothache, intestinal pain, back pain but pushes hard on the Bay of Biscay and completes a good job this morning, 

Kojiro Shiraishi(DMG MORI Global One) on the dock, “I am very tired, very tired. I had gastric problems for two days and ended up very low on energy, so it has been hard to get some strength. But as you can see I am back here there is not too much damage with the boat, it is in reasonable shape and I have brought it is back home in good condition and that was always the objective.
Last night was as hard a night as I remember, there were a lot of manoeuvres, gybing and so on. But the job is done. The objective this season was really to finish all the races and also to test the new bow and foils and we were able to do that, to check off everything on the list.
The fact is this is no longer a new boat, much as we maybe like to think it is, and so there are a lot of small things which break as it is getting older now. And so we need to do a big overhaul this winter and work on reliability. But I was fast at the beginning, there are some wind conditions when this boat really flies, we are really fast, and some we are not.
But me? I need to train harder and be fitter with more strength. This is really not a boat for old guys!"

18 - DMG MORI Global One

Finish time 12/12/2023 08:11:42 UTC
Elapsed time 11d16h 11min 42s
Delta to first 16h 07min 54s
Delta to 17th 11min 56s
Average speed on theoretical course 3 497.42 nm / 12.48 nds
Real average on real course sailed 4 333.20 nm / 15.46 nd