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16-year-old Abby Sunderland defends parents, doesn't rule out another sailing attempt

June 15, 2010 |  8:46 am
With her family under fire since her rescue in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Thousand Oaks 16-year-old Abby Sunderland spoke in their defense in a phone interview with the Associated Press while her rescue boat made a stop on the remote Kerguelen Islands north of Antarctica:

Sunderland acknowledged that her adventure "can look pretty crazy. But the thing is, those people don't know me. And if they did, they wouldn't be criticizing my age." ...

"I think that a lot of people are judging me by the standards they have for their teens and other teens that they know … and thinking 'she's exactly like them,'" Sunderland said. "They don't understand that I've sailed my whole life and I do know what I'm doing out there."

"Storms and bad weather, it's the chance you take when you're sailing around the world. And I was up for it, and my parents knew I was," she added.

Sunderland was attempting to circumnavigate the globe alone when she hit three-story-high waves Thursday. The rough seas snapped her mast, triggering a tense search and a rescue by a French fishing boat. 

Abby Her brother Zac briefly held the distinction of being the youngest person to sail solo around the world, at age 17. The record was taken by 16-year-old Jessica Watson of Australia, who completed the trip in May.

Abby Sunderland told the AP that she regretted having to give up on her dream of circumnavigating the globe, and was grateful to the crew of the French fishing boat for coming out of their way to rescue her.

She didn't, however, rule out another attempt.

"It's been a dream or a goal of mine for years," she said. "I don't know when or how I will, but I'm pretty sure I will one day sail around the world."

She is expected to reunite with her family in several days when the boat arrives, appropriately enough, at Reunion Island.

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Abby Sunderland. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times