Teen sailor Abby Sunderland: I’ll try again to conquer the globe
Teen sailor Abby Sunderland has done more by age 16 than most people do in their entire lives. A winter storm ended her solo sail around the world, but she’s apparently not through yet.
Like an adventurer from a different time, California teen sailor Abby Sunderland remained undaunted Saturday, saying she will try again to solo the globe even after a winter storm in the Indian ocean broke the rigging on her 40-foot Wild Eyes sailboat.
On board a French fishing vessel that plucked Ms. Sunderland off the deck of her broken boat, the 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said the dismasting and subsequent rescue – a story that played around the globe – hasn’t deflated her drive to sail around the world.
“I’m definitely going to sail around the world again, or at least give it another try,” she said, according to Australian broadcaster ABC.
On Saturday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority confirmed that Sunderland had been rescued more than 2,000 miles from the coast of Western Australia, two days after she lost communications and sent a distress signal.
Older sailors say her attempt to cross the Indian Ocean in winter was foolhardy. She faced 70-knot winds and waves three stories tall last week. Apparently a rogue wave flipped the boat, destroying the rigging and the keel. Sunderland was reportedly in fine shape after her rescue, only a “slight shake” in her voice, according to her mom, Marianne Sunderland.
“Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best,” Sunderland wrote in a blog post from a place she described as “a great big fishing boat headed I am not exactly sure where. The long and the short of it is, well, one long wave, and one short mast.”
Her final destination, after what promises to be another week at sea jumping rides on different boats, is Reunion Island, a French territory east of Madagascar.
Critics like Steve Lopez at the Los Angeles times say allowing Sunderland to sail solo is close to “reckless endangement” on the part of the parents.
”I don’t think that record breaking is a bad idea in and of itself,” Dave Czesniuk, director of operations at the Center for the Study of Sports in Society at Northeastern University, tells the Monitor’s Daniel B. Wood. “What must be asked is whether or not this achievement is coming at the expense of normal development in other endeavors, academically, emotionally, socially. The entire context of the youth in question needs to be weighed.”
But her dad, Laurence Sunderland, told the CBS Early Morning show Saturday that he would “wholeheartedly” support another global run for his daughter.
“I don’t think age should be a criterion in this,” he said. “It should be the experience of the person and their level of expertise to undertake this.”
He added: “Abigail is a very competent sailor. She’s proven herself over and over again through this trip. This wasn’t the first time she had adverse conditions. She’d experienced over 50 knots of wind off the Falklands, rounding Cape Horn, and rounding Cape Good Hope. She’s been through trials and tribulations on the ocean and has overcome them.”
“This was one that was unfortunate that took the mast of the vessel,” he said. “And that’s got nothing to do with her sailing ability. It was an unfortunate thing that happened.”:
Sunderland set out from Marina Del del Ray, on January 23 in her attempt to sail by herself around the world. She had to stop first in Cabo San Lucas and restart the attempt, but problems with the boat’s autopilot forced her to shore again in Cape Town. She had been at sea for nearly four and a half months when she was plucked out of the Indian Ocean.
She’s following the wake of her brother, Zac, who circumnavigated the globe when he was 17. Another 16-year-old sailor, Jessica Watson of Austrlia, currently holds the record for youngest solo circumnavigator, completing a 7-month journey earlier this year.
“Jessica Watson, her family and team were all relieved to hear the good news late this afternoon, that 16 year old solo sailor Abby Sunderland had been located and is safe, despite being dismasted in the Indian Ocean,” said a statement on Ms. Watson’s website.