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Zac Sunderland
Born November 29, 1991 (1991-11-29) (age 18)
Nationality American
Occupation Adventurer
Known for Second youngest person to sail around the world solo. First person, under the age of 18, to solo circumnavigate the world.

Zac Sunderland (born November 29, 1991) was, for some six weeks, the youngest person to sail solo around the world.[1] Zac completed his trip, after 13 months and 2 days at sea, on July 16, 2009 at age 17, when he sailed back in to his port of origin, Marina del Rey, California. The record was previously held by Australian David Dicks, and was surpassed on August 27, 2009 by Mike Perham of the United Kingdom. Sunderland is also the youngest American sailor since 1965 to complete a solo global circumnavigation. (In the late 1960s 16 year-old Robin Lee Graham left Los Angeles, California but did not complete the voyage until 1970, at the age of 21.) However, Sunderland's record was not recognized by Guinness due to him taking a brief break to fly home to celebrate Christmas with his family.[2]

On September 19, Zac was Grand Marshal of the 14th annual Route 66 Parade in Duarte, California. On December 12, Zac was Grand Marshal of the 2009 Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade in Marina del Rey, California.


Early life

The oldest of Marianne and Laurence Sunderland's seven children, Sunderland's first home was a 17 metres (56 ft) Tradewind sailboat. His family sailed in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Mexico. His shipwright father bought a 51 feet (16 m) Aleutian, and the family made a three-year cruise of California's Channel Islands, Baja California and mainland Mexico.[3][4]


When Sunderland decided to attempt the circumnavigation, he purchased a 36 feet (11 m) Islander for $6,000, using all of his savings. With the assistance of his father, he retrofitted the yacht for the trip. [5] [6] Sunderland planned to complete his voyage in April 2009 with a maximum time of 18 months.[7] He continued his schooling while on his trip, saying, "I have all my books with me. I have one more year to finish at high school and I have to send back my tests (via e-mail) to my mom. She's going to grade them and make sure I am doing well."[8][9]

Sunderland departed from Marina del Rey on June 14, 2008. The Intrepid featured the logos of Shuman’s RealSweet, Mastronardi’s Sunset Produce, and his sponsor Produce for Kids, promoting healthy eating and produce consumption for children.[10]

Sunderland crossed the Pacific to his first port of call, the Marshall Islands, then headed west to Papua New Guinea, then Australia, the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Madagascar, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, sailing across the Atlantic, and finally transiting the Panama Canal/Galapagos Islands back to the Pacific and home.

Sunderland initially planned to make 15 to 30 stops around the world, the first of which was planned to be Marshall Islands, Micronesia. Due to some minor work needed to be done on the boat, and the desire to reprovision, he elected to re-route and set a heading for Hawaii. On July 11, Zac made his first stop at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island before heading on to Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, off Diamond Head.[11] He left Hawaii headed towards the Marshall Islands (about 2,500 miles), on July 16, 2008.[12]

On August 4, 2008, Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing (a sailor in his youth) formally welcomed and congratulated Sunderland in the President's Office on Majuro: "And how is your boat? I remember one time I went with my parents on a 26- or 27-foot canoe and we sailed from Wotje to Arno."[13] The U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Clyde Bishop, also welcomed Sunderland to Majuro U.S. Embassy on August 7.[14]

Sailing from Majuro, Sunderland reached Darwin, Australia on September 18, 2008, with a faulty bilge pump and fuel problems forcing him to land in Papua New Guinea. Sunderland had his first encounter with pirates on October 7 after leaving Darwin. 250 km off the Indonesian coast, en route to his next stop in South Africa, in the Indian Ocean toward Cocos Islands, he encountered a large 60–70 foot wooden fishing boat without flags. The pirates, after shadowing the Intrepid for some time, eventually lost interest and sped off, but not before Sunderland, as a precaution, had loaded his revolver and locked himself in his cabin.[15][16] Sunderland had endured 25-knot winds and 10-foot seas for more than 24 hours on October 13. Amid continuing engine and fuel problems, a snapped boom, and a broken tiller needing repairs, Sunderland reached Cocos Islands (a.k.a. Keeling Islands) in the eastern Indian Ocean on October 14. He proceeded to Mauritius, thereby completing half of his expedition. Sunderland turned 17 on November 29, 2008, while at sea.[17][18][19][20][21] Sunderland arrived in Durban, South Africa on December 14, after a delay of around 10 days because of a lack of wind. He flew home to California on December 22 for Christmas to be with his family and returned to South Africa afterward to continue his circumnavigation of the world.[22]

Sunderland sailed short hops to East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, and finally got to Cape Town, where he had a chance meeting with Mike Perham, who was vying for a record as the world's youngest solo-circumnavigator, and Minoru Saito who, at 75, is making his eighth solo-circumnavigation and holds the record as the oldest solo, non-stop circumnavigator. After departing Cape Town, Sunderland continued to St. Helena and then across the Atlantic to Grenada. His next stop was Panama, where he crossed the canal into the Pacific. After a couple of stops in Mexico, to dodge bad weather and repair a bulkhead, Sunderland tacked back up the coast to home, completing the journey on July 16, 2009. [23] [24][25 ] [26] [27] [28]

Sailing route

Other Record-breaking attempts

Although Zac was the first to complete such a journey before turning 18, he was beaten a month later by English youth Michael Perham, who began a circumnavigation of the globe on November 16, 2008, and completed it on August 27, 2009. Perham was 16 when he began the journey, and turned 17 on March 16, 2009, while crossing the Indian Ocean.[29]

Australian Jessica Watson, 16, departured in October 2009, for a trip expected to last eight months.

Abby Sunderland, Zac's sister, is planning to re-take the record. She turned 16 in October 2009 and is younger than Watson, and plans to depart in December 2009 for a voyage that is expected to last six months, using a small racing boat.

Laura Dekker, a 14-year old Dutch sailor, planned to depart on September 1 for a two-year voyage.[30] However, her departure is in jeopardy due to legal issues.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Thomas, Pete (2009-07-17). "Zac Sunderland completes solo sail around the world". Los Angeles Times.,0,3460856.story. Retrieved 2009-08-04.  
  2. ^
  3. ^, the Live interview
  4. ^, Zac Sunderland
  5. ^ "RiMajolOnline Represents the People of the Marshall Islands :: View topic - American Solo Teen Sailor Expected In Majuro Today". Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  6. ^ "American Teen Zac Sunderland Makes It To Majuro On Solo Voyage". Pacific Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  7. ^ CNN's Nicole Lapin interview with Zac Sunderlang, TSN
  8. ^ "A Columbus of our dreams." Los Angeles Times. June 23, 2008.
  9. ^, Aussie sailor's record under threat
  10. ^, 16-year-old sailing the world, promoting produce
  11. ^, Zac Sunderland stops in Hawaii on circumnavigation
  12. ^, Teenager attempting world record sails into Honolulu
  13. ^, "Teen Solo Sailor Meets Marshall Islands President
  14. ^, Zac Sunderland Meets US Ambassador(sic), Readies To Sail To Australia
  15. ^ Sailor Zac, Sunderland endures first pirate scare
  16. ^, Lone sailor's scare
  17. ^, American Teen Solo Sailor Limps Into Cocos Islands
  18. ^, Solo sailor Zac Sunderland survives heavy seas, nears halfway point
  19. ^, What Happened to Zac?
  20. ^, SoCal Teen Sailor Makes Stop in Australia
  21. ^, Teenage sailor docks in Darwin on world record attempt
  22. ^, Round-the-world teen arrives in SA
  23. ^ "Britain's Mike Perham has chance meeting with Minoru Saito". Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  24. ^ "Forums - Sailing in general - Party Time in Cape Town". Sail Japan. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  25. ^ "Teenage solo circumnavigators meet". Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  26. ^ "Zac Sunderland". Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  27. ^ "Zac Sunderland completes solo sail around the world". Los Angeles Times.,0,3460856.story. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
  28. ^ "Press Room - American Sailing Association". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^ Kids today, all they want to do is sail around the world -- alone

External links



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