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Teen sailor Abby Sunderland defends her parents

Sunderland_300 Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old Thousand Oaks girl whose dream of sailing solo around the world ended when a massive wave snapped her mast last week, defended her parents in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Laurence and Marianne Sunderland have faced criticism since their daughter set off on her round-the-world trip in January. The outcries against the Sunderlands only intensified when Abby hit three-story-high waves Thursday in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, leading to a 20-hour maritime search over the dangerous Southern Ocean and her eventual rescue by a French fishing boat.

"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 by phone from the remote Kerguelen Islands, north of Antarctica, where her rescue boat stopped briefly Tuesday en route to Reunion Island to reunite with her family. "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."

Sunderland's parents -- whose son, Zac, briefly became the youngest person to sail solo around the world when he was 17 last summer -- were the center of even more controversy Monday when it was learned Laurence had been working on a reality-TV-show deal for his family as his daughter set off on her trip. 

Other comments by Abby Sunderland, who was upbeat even after her ordeal:

-- "You don't have time to be terrified. If you get terrified, things just get worse. You just deal with what you get given and make the best out of it."

-- "I think my biggest regret is having to give up my dream, but I didn't really have a choice. I was definitely up for it, and I definitely could have done it."

-- "I still love sailing just as much as the day that I left, and I'm definitely going to keep sailing, and I hope to sail around the world someday. It's been a dream or a goal of mine for years. I don't know when or how I will, but I'm pretty sure I will one day sail around the world."

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Abby Sunderland in Port-aux-Francais, Indian Ocean, on June 15, 2010. Credit: Loc Bourchis / Associated Press / TAAF

 
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