Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Jessica Watson pounded by 70knots, Abby Sunderland sets off

by Nancy Knudsen on 24 Jan 2010
Abby farewell Lisa Gizara ©2009 Gizaraarts.Com
While our Sunshine coast teenager, 16-year-old Jessica Watson has just received her worst pounding so far, with 70 knot winds and three knock-downs during the gale, Californian sailor, the slightly younger 16-year-old Abby Sunderland, has just departed Marina del Ray in California on a similar quest to that of Jessica - to be the youngest sailor to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world.

Abby, younger sister of Zac Sunderland, who last year became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world, is setting off to emulate and eclipse her brother's feat, as well as being in friendly competition with Jessica.

Departing California's premier yachting facility Marina del Ray yesterday, Abby, on her Open 40 Wild Eyes, was farewelled by hundreds of well wishers, and escorted out of calm waters by yachts from the Del Ray Yacht Club.


Her brother didn't keep his unofficial record for long. British teen sailor Michael Perham, already in the news as the youngest sailor to cross the Atlantic solo, had set off after Zac in a much faster boat, and he was about three months younger. Mike took the record from Zac just a couple months after Zac had finished. (Neither of the boys completed their journeys non-stop and unassisted.) Then, in September, Jessica departed, and has since crossed the equator twice, rounded Cape Horn, and is more than half way through her voyage. She has reported that her yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, handled the recent bad conditions and the three knock-downs well.

Abby doesn't hide the fact that she was inspired by her brother's feat. 'Every little kid wants to be a doctor or a princess or a firefighter,' Sunderland told reporters just before she left, while trying to explain the motivation behind her controversial excursion. 'But watching my own brother go out and actually do it; it really made me realize that you can do things like this.'

Abby's father, Laurence Sunderland, obviously attempting to deflect the widely expressed suspicion that parents whose children attempt such challenges are spurred on by their ambitious parents, told reporters that during the last three years he had tried to dissuade his daughter from such a venture by taking her sailing in nasty weather and bad sea conditions, but she only became more determined.

Abby's mother, Marianne, also supports her daughter's voyage. She told reporters before the departure, 'At first I wasn't as supportive as I was with Zac -- with him I never had a doubt. However with the new Abby I've seen over the last months, I have seen an incredibly tough and determined young woman take the place of the sweet girl she had always been. Now I am really excited for her because it is true that this has been something she's been talking about for years.'

Abby and her team are slightly worried, however, about the timing of her journey. While, on her present schedule, she will round the Horn in the height of summer when conditions should be the best they can be, her delayed departure - delayed because of necessary boat preparation - means that by the time she sails south of Australia, the weather will be approaching Autumn, and the weather will be deteriorating.

Sail-World, along with thousands of sailors around the world, wishes her fair sailing.

However, as I write these words, my heart is anxious for Abby.

Her Open 40 yacht is a racing boat rather than a cruising boat, and for this reason offers her the best chance of getting round the world before the worst of the winter in the Southern Ocean.

However, it is also more complex and more difficult to handle - in the conditions she is likely to face - than the sturdy and slow Sparksman and Stephens 34 that Jessica is sailing.

North Technology - Southern SparsProtector - 660 x 82Mackay Boats

Related Articles

America's Cup - Japanese launch new Challenger in Bermuda
A historic day today at the Dockyards in Bermuda as SoftBank Team Japan unveiled their brand new AC50 A historic day today at the Dockyards in Bermuda as SoftBank Team Japan unveiled their brand new America’s Cup Class race boat, Hikari, the next-generation boat designed to win the first ever America’s Cup for a Japanese flagged challenger. Hikari, meaning “flash of light”, was selected from over 430 names submitted by fans in Japan through a nationwide contest held by SoftBank Corp. in the le
Posted on 26 Feb
Cool drone footage of Dongfeng Race Team on the water
Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Stunning drone footage of the re-fitted Volvo Ocean 65 has been released as the team hit the water off the coast of Lisbon.
Posted on 25 Feb
America's Cup - Oracle Team USA loses crew overboard - Video
OTUSA video of crew member Graeme Spence when he fell off the front cross beam of the team's new AC50 Oracle Team USA came close to having a serious injury to crew member Graeme Spence when he fell off the front cross beam of the team's new AC50 - a situation that has been feared as he passed between the foils, while the new America's Cup Defender was sailing at speed.
Posted on 23 Feb
Volvo Ocean Race - 10 young sailors who made an impact on race history
Age is just a number, right? Well, yes – according to some of the sailors who've tackled the world's toughest ocean test Age is just a number, right? Well, yes – according to some of the sailors who've tackled the world's toughest ocean test. They say 'if you're good enough, you're old enough', and this lot certainly proved that. Here, we look back at some of the most iconic young sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race and its predecessor, the Whitbread Round the World Race's four-and-a-half decade history.
Posted on 23 Feb
America's Cup - Artemis Racing launches their AC50 in Bermuda
Artemis Racing's new race yacht, “Magic Blue”, was christened today by Torbjörn Törnqvist's wife, Natalia, at a special Artemis Racing's new race yacht, “Magic Blue”, was christened today by Torbjörn Törnqvist's wife, Natalia, at a special celebration in Bermuda. The launch sees the culmination of more than three years of intense design and development work, which began almost immediately after the finish of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.
Posted on 22 Feb
Volvo Ocean Race – Pablo Arrarte joins MAPFRE as watch captain
With just 242 days to go until the start of the 2017-18 edition on October 22, preparations are already well underway. Arrarte, who raced onboard Brunel in 2014-15, will also assume the role of deputy to Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández, who was named as skipper on Friday.
Posted on 22 Feb
Gladwell's Line - AC50 Roll Call shows several late or absent
The AC50 unveiling/launch/sailing call-sheet has had a few additions since Land Rover BAR were the first to launch The AC50 unveiling/launch/sailing call-sheet has had a few additions since Land Rover BAR were the first to launch on February 6 - the earliest day permitted under the 28-day voluntary Blackout amendment to the Protocol governing the current event.
Posted on 21 Feb
Emirates Team NZ and Southern Spars launching into the America’s Cup
Built by Southern Spars, Emirates Team New Zealand’s newest America’s Cup yacht has been launched. Built by Southern Spars, Emirates Team New Zealand’s newest America’s Cup yacht has been launched. The Auckland-based mast builder demonstrated its standing as one of the world’s top carbon fibre manufacturers. Southern delivered Emirates Team NZ’s most technically advanced yacht ever, meeting the extremely strict budget, construction, weight and timing requirements.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ's bike team in training - Video
Emirates Team New Zealand have released a short video of four of their grinding team in training Emirates Team New Zealand have released a short video of four of their grinding team in training - including two Olympic class sailors and an Olympic Gold medalist rower.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Oracle Team USA sails AC50 for first time in Bermuda
Oracle Team USA took to the Great Sound on Monday, sailing its newly launched America's Cup Class boat, '17' Oracle Team USA took to the Great Sound on Monday, sailing its newly launched America's Cup Class boat, '17', for the first time. 'We had a successful day,' said skipper Jimmy Spithill dockside after the training session. 'First impressions were great. The boat went really well, so everyone is happy.'
Posted on 20 Feb