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Abby Sunderland, Zac's younger sister, to also sail around the world alone

August 18, 2009 |  4:59 pm

Captain abby Zac Sunderland is still basking in the spotlight after becoming the youngest person, on July 16, to sail around the world alone.

(The 17-year-old from Thousand Oaks flew to Sacramento on Monday to meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

Now it's Abby Sunderland's turn to try to circumnavigate the planet in a sailboat by herself (picture at right) -- that is, if she can land a major sponsor and secure an Open 40 sailboat designed for fast cruising.

If that happens quickly enough, she will embark in November on her own quest to become the youngest person to accomplish this remarkable feat. She turns 16 on Oct. 19 and plans a nonstop, unassisted voyage that's expected to last about six months.

(Zac's voyage, on a 36-foot boat, lasted 13 months and included many stops, both planned and unplanned.)

"I've been wanting to do this since I was 13, and when I was 13 there was nobody doing this," Abby told the Associated Press. "So it's kind of like right as I'm about to finally get to do it, all these other kids start popping up doing it."

There  was Zac, and there is England's Mike Perham, who is a few months younger than Zac, closing in on the finish of his around-the-world adventure. And there is Australia's Jessica Watson, 16, about to embark on what she hopes will be a nonstop, unassisted journey aboard a 34-foot boat. 

Laurence and Marianne Sunderland received a lot of criticism -- and support -- for allowing their oldest son to go off on such a potentially dangerous adventure. They'll hear the same criticism -- perhaps even stronger -- once word spreads of Abby's planned journey.

But Zac proved more than capable and Abby, likewise, is an accomplished sailor with a shipwright for a father. So she's to be commended for her bravery and adventurous spirit, and hopefully she'll be blessed with the same good fortune enjoyed by her brother.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo courtesy of Abby Sunderland

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