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Teen sailor Abby Sunderland rescued at sea

In this July 2009 photo provided by Laurence Sunderland, Abby Sunderland is shown sailing in Santa Monica Bay, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Laurence Sunderland)
June 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A teen sailor from Thousand Oaks who was stranded in the Indian Ocean was rescued from her crippled sailboat Saturday. The French ship Ile De La Reunion reached Abby Sunderland overnight.

She had been waiting for help since Thursday when her solo trip around the world was ended by the turbulent sea. The mast on Sunderland's boat collapsed, knocking out her satellite communications.

About an hour before Saturday morning's rescue, Sunderland fired off a flare, confirming her location to a spotter plane above.

The French fishing crew was then able to locate her, and bring her safely onboard their ship. There's no word on when she's expected to reach dry land.

Laurence Sunderland, the father of the 16-year-old, told reporters outside his home that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had contacted him to confirm the rescue more than 2,000 miles from the western Australia coast.

"She got out of her vessel with the clothes on her back, and we are just really excited and ecstatic that Abigail is in safe hands," he said. "She was in good spirits ... She talked to her mother."

"She sounded tired, a little bit small in her voice, but she was able to make jokes and she was looking forward to getting some sleep," her mother, Marianne Sunderland, said in a news conference Saturday morning.

Sunderland set sail from Marina del Rey on January 23, hoping to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Zac Sunderland, her brother, held the record for a little more than a month last year until Briton Mike Perham completed his own journey. The record changed hands again last month, when 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson completed her own around-the-world voyage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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