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Teen ends attempt to sail nonstop around world

April 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 16-year-old Thousand Oaks girl attempting to sail solo around the world has ended her quest to become the youngest to make the trip nonstop and will head to South Africa for boat repairs.Abby Sunderland, who departed from Marina del Rey on January 23, wrote on her blog Saturday that she had to make a stop after losing use of her boat's main autopilot.

"I gave it my best shot and made it almost half way around the world. 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 wrote.

On her blog, she said it would be foolish and irresponsible to keep going.

"This day in age, yachtsmen rely heavily on electronic equipment - autopilots, wind vanes, you name it," explained Abby's father Laurance Sunderland. "There's tons of electronic equipment on the boat that doesn't fare too well in the saltwater environment. And we're bringing her in for safety reasons, we've had some issues with the autopilots."

The 16-year-old sailor had mechanical problems when she arrived in Cabo San Lucas. But she continued on and last month Sunderland completed the task she saw as the trip's most difficult - rounding the Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America. She was believed to be the youngest person to sail alone around the cape, known for treacherous winds and waves.

Sunderland's now heading to Cape Town, South Africa, for repairs. She hopes to make it there in the next 10 days to two weeks.

Her father said there's still a world record his 16-year-old daughter can set.

"Now Abigail will be assisted and it will change from a nonstop, unassisted to becoming the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the world," said Laurance Sunderland.

If everything goes according to this new plan, Abby Sunderland is due back in Southern California in July.

Abby's older brother Zac became the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the world - sailing 27,500 nautical miles in 13 months - in July 2009 at age 17. But 17-year-old Mike Perham of Britain broke is record about one month later.


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