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Abby Sunderland's mission to sail solo around the world without stopping is derailed

April 25, 2010 |  4:19 pm

Abby Sunderland Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks who has been trying to sail around the world alone without stopping, will have to pull in to Cape Town, South Africa, for repairs, she says in a blog post Saturday.

Trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, she will continue the trip after reaching South Africa and having repairs to her 40-foot boat.

"I am going to be pulling into Cape Town for repairs thus ending my non-stop attempt," she wrote. "My whole team and I have been discussing whether or not I need to stop ever since my main auto pilot died. It's one thing to sail across an ocean with one well-working auto pilot, it's another to keep going with one that is not at all reliable.

"It would be foolish and irresponsible for me to keep going with my equipment not working well. I'm about 10-14 days from Cape Town right now and though my auto pilot is working for now, we're all holding our breath and hoping it will last."

She added, "I will definitely keep going and whether or not I will make any more stops after this I don't know yet. I admit I was pretty upset at first, but there is no point in getting upset. What's done is done and there is nothing I can do about it."

Sunderland, whose older brother, Zac, sailed solo around the world in 13 months while making several stops, left Marina del Rey on Jan. 23. By late March, she had navigated one of the most challenging and dangerous regions of her trip, rounding Cape Horn between the tip of South America and the Antarctic peninsula.

After making that passage, she told The Times, "It's the milestone I've been waiting for. It's pretty much the hardest part of my trip, and now it's over so it's really great being here."

[Updated: Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old Australian, is closing in on her similar quest to sail around the world alone and unassisted, and reportedly is about 1,500 nautical miles from successfully completing her journey.

Sunderland in effect restarted her journey after stopping for repairs in Cabo San Lucas shortly after she started. Sunderland is five months younger than Watson, but once Watson finishes, she will become the youngest to sail around the world alone without stopping, a mark Sunderland cannot break once she stops in South Africa.]

-- Mike James

Photo: Abby Sunderland in Marina del Rey before the start of her attempted solo global circumnavigation. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times