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Abby Sunderland speaks out about adventure

June 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Abby Sunderland is still making her long way home Tuesday, but the teen sailor from Thousand Oaks is already speaking out about her rescue in the Indian Ocean, her failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo, and criticism about her young age.She says she still hopes to someday complete the round the world journey that was cut short by storms.

The 16-year-old had to be rescued by a French fishing boat after 30-foot waves snapped the mast on her sailboat. She spoke by phone to the Associated Press from the remote Kerguelen Islands, a stopping off point on her way home.

"I still love sailing just as much as I did the day I left and I'm definitely going to keep sailing," said Sunderland. "I hope to sail around the world some day. It's been a dream and 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 all the way around the world."

Sunderland says people who criticize her parents for allowing her to try the around the world journey are missing the point that she's an experienced sailor and has the skills to do it.

"People that are still criticizing my age, I think they should have stopped a few months ago, you know, maybe around Cape Horn when I'd been out at sea for a month already. You know, by now you'd think I'd proven myself," said Sunderland.

Sunderland's parents are flying to Reunion Island, off the coast of Africa, to reunite with their daughter. On "Larry King Live," Abby's father also defended his daughter's adventure.

"At 13, I evaluated the situation, it took about one second, and I said, 'You're too young at this age but let's see where it leads.' And she started soloing in 35-foot crafts at that age, at a young age," said Laurence Sunderland. "Over the years I took her through some rougher and rougher circumstances, and my goal was to dissuade her that the ocean is not really a friendly place."

But it did not dissuade her, and last January Sunderland set sail from Marina del Rey. She sailed half way around the world before those storms cripple her boat.

Some claim all this is just an attempt to generate interest in a reality TV show, like another 'balloon boy.'

"I just think it's ridiculous, you know, it really is ridiculous," said Abby's father.

Last year, Abby Sunderland's 17-year-old brother Zac completed his around the world sail and briefly held the record for the youngest sailor to accomplish the feat. However, 16-year-old Jessica Watson from Australia eclipsed Zac's record in May.


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