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Zac Sunderland--the world's bravest 16-year-old?

November 9, 2008 | 11:39 am


Today's story in the Los Angeles Times print and online editions was of a sailor who has been besieged by the elements, yet bravely perseveres.

A few things should be pointed out. It has not been all hell for Zac Sunderland. He has enjoyed many days of smooth, fast sailing. He has been treated graciously by members of yacht clubs that have hosted the 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks, who is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

He has enjoyed great adventure in exotic ports of call, and even went diving with crocodiles.
Just the other day, while regrouping at Rodrigues Island before pushing on to Mauritius, off of Africa, he won 500 rupees, or $15.00, in a slot machine.

A woman who read the story emailed to say I should have pointed out that Zac is a homeschooler. It's true. He told me his dad keeps forgetting to bring his books, though, whenever Laurence Sutherland has flown to meet his son in port.

But Zac, a junior, added that he'll earn credit for his adventure. He'll write about governments in the countries he visits, receive math credit for navigation, etc.

As for the besiegement, it's still with him. Today on Zac's blog is an entry written by his mom, Marianne, after Zac had left Rodrigues for Mauritius:

"Zac had a long night of massive squalls with lightning and thunder for much of the night. It is like the Indian Ocean is trying to give him as much grief as he can before Zac finally passes through!"

Sunderland, in his conversations with me, has not complained, nor has he given sounded worried. In fact, he could probably sail through a typhoon and emerge with the same mild demeanor. As for run-ins with pirates, that may be another matter. Hopefully, Zac will avoid contact with all evil-doers from here on out.

--Pete Thomas

Photograph by Jen Edney