If you’ve been reading The Adventure Blog for a very long time, you may recall that about a decade ago there was a race to see who could become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. We followed a number of young men and women who were just teenagers at the time, but had embarked on circumnavigation attempts by sailboat. Most were successful in their endeavors, although sending a teenager out to sail around the world was not without controversy. But one young woman was forced to abandon her attempt when her ship was damaged by a storm in Indian Ocean. Now, nearly a decade later, the remains of that sailing yacht have been found adrift off the coast of Australia.
In 2009, Abby Sunderland was the next teenager who was looking to complete a solo sailing adventure around the globe. Her brother Zac had already finished his round-the-world excursion, and she was looking to follow in his footsteps. At the time, Abby was just 16 years old, but was already an accomplished and experienced sailor in her own right. But as we know, even very experienced sailors can run into trouble when massive storms strike.
In June of that year, Abby was sailing across the Indian Ocean when she and her ship –– the Wild Eyes –– ran into just such a storm. Large waves caused the vessel to capsize, damaging its mast in the process and leaving the young woman stranded at sea. It took two days for a rescue ship to reach her, but eventually she was plucked from the water, while the Wild Eyes was left to drift.
Earlier in the week, a tuna spotting airplane from Australia caught sight of the ship and notified authorities. A police helicopter and two other fishing ships were dispatched to check on the wreckage, which was later identified as Wild Eyes. The vessel has since gone missing again, and may have sunk for good this time.
Sunderland, who is now 25 years old, is quoted as saying that her “heart skipped a beat” when she was informed that the remains of her 40-foot yacht had been found. In a statement released following the news she said, “It brought back memories — good and not so good — but it was neat to see it after so long.”
Reading this story brought back a lot of memories about Abby, and the other teenage sailors, who were a part of the adventure news scene ten years back. I definitely remember the panic that set in when it was revealed that she had run into trouble, and there was much relief when she was rescued at last. Thankfully, the others all made it safely round the world and there were no major tragedies. It was an interesting time for sailing to be sure.
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