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Teen sailor Abby Sunderland recounts incident that led to her rescue

June 29, 2010 |  1:37 pm

Abby Sunderland with her brother, Zac, answers questions during at a press conference in Marina Del Rey Tuesday after she returned home Monday following her attempt to sail around the world.

Would-be global sailor Abby Sunderland faced a media crowd in Marina del Rey on Tuesday, addressing what happened when she ran into trouble in the Indian Ocean and was forced to activate emergency locating beacons after her 40-foot sailboat, Wild Eyes, rolled in high seas and lost its mast and satellite communications equipment, initiating a rescue mission from Australia.

Sunderland, 16, told those gathered, including Times staff writer Catherine Saillant, that she had been in the cabin when a giant wave caught the sails and rolled her boat upside-down. It immediately righted, but during the rollover, she got banged up and briefly blacked out.

"When I got outside, there was nothing there," Sunderland told the gathered press. "It was a 1-inch stub. There was nothing to jury-rig."

The Thousand Oaks teenager also responded to harsh criticism that has been directed at her parents, Laurence and Marianne, for allowing their young daughter to attempt a solo-circumnavigation in the first place.

She said that such criticism came from people unfamiliar with her and her family, and that she has been sailing for most of her life.

While her older brother, Zac, was at the news conference, their parents weren't -- their mother was in labor with the family’s eighth child (a boy), who will be named Paul, after the captain of the Ile de la Reunion, the fishing vessel that rescued Sunderland.  

To read more on the news conference, please see the post done by Saillant for The Times blog, L.A. Now.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Abby Sunderland with her brother, Zac, answers questions during at a news conference in Marina Del Rey after she returned home Monday following her attempt to sail around the world. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

-- Kelly Burgess

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