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14-Year-Old - Youngest Solo Across the Atlantic

'Michael Perham'   
A 14-year-old schoolboy has entered the record books by becoming the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic single-handed.

Michael Perham, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, ended his 3,500-mile voyage when he sailed into Nelson's Dockyard on the Caribbean island of Antigua at 10am (2pm GMT).

The teenager, who has endured more than six weeks at sea, was escorted into dock by a flotilla of boats. During the trip he has had to contend with giant waves, shark-infested waters and hurricane winds.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: 'Michael has proved himself another hugely successful sailor in the great British maritime tradition.'

The former merchant seaman, in charge of the country while Tony Blair holidays in Miami, added: 'I have no doubt that the whole country will join me in sending congratulations on this remarkable achievement by such a young man.'

On reaching dry land, where he was met by a steel band, Michael said he had been overwhelmed by the reception he had received. 'It feels absolutely fantastic being back on dry land, absolutely brilliant,' he told BBC News 24.

His mother, Heather, who watched his arrival from home in Potters Bar with other members of his family, said she had just spoken to her son. 'He is just so, so excited. He could see all the boats coming out to meet him from the harbour. He is just amazed by the reception he has had.' she said.

Speaking to her son via video-link for the first time since reaching shore, Mrs Perham congratulated him on his achievement. 'Congratulations Michael from everyone here in the family,' she said. 'We are very proud of you. It's a huge accomplishment for yourself and to set an example for other young people to have adventures and live life to the full.'

Michael, who has been sailing since he was seven, set off on his voyage from Gibraltar on November 18. He has used the trade winds that have carried sailors from Europe past Africa to the Americas for centuries. His father, Peter, an experienced yachtsman, has been shadowing the trip and was in regular radio contact with his son. Michael was expected to finish his voyage on Tuesday but a problem with a sail on the 28ft boat delayed his arrival in Antigua by 24 hours.

He was inspired to attempt the record-breaking journey after watching the previous record being set. Sebastian Clover, 15, from the Isle of Wight, sailed from the Canary Islands to Antigua in January 2003.




by Press Association

  

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3:34 PM Wed 3 Jan 2007 GMT






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