Please select your home edition
Edition
Windtbot-COACH-720x90

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.

Gul 2018 October - Code Zero FOOTERRS Sailing BOTTOM1DSailing Footer

Related Articles

49th Star Class South American Championship
Robert Scheidt and Arthur Lopes win in Rio Robert Scheidt and Arthur Lopes (BRA) are the 2018 South American champions of the Star class. The two-time Olympic champion won the first race on Sunday, last day of the event, at the Yacht Club in Rio de Janeiro, and finished second in the last.
Posted on 12 Nov
Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe day 9
François Gabart says he's happy with his second-placed finish At the moment, François Gabart says he's happy with his finish at Pointe-à-Pitre and to have been able to battle to the end, even though Francis Joyon stole the victory by taking the lead at the finishing line, just seven minutes ahead of him.
Posted on 12 Nov
Emirates Team NZ are first team in Cup Village
Long the Cinderella of America's Cup teams, Emirates Team NZ have now made it to the glass palace After years of being cooped up in a grimy, gritty base, America's Cup victors Emirates Team New Zealand finally have a sparkling new home on Auckland's waterfront. Suzanne McFadden takes a look inside
Posted on 12 Nov
Joyon sets course record in the Route du Rhum
Joyon sets course record in the Route du Rhum–Destination Guadeloupe France's Francis Joyon (62), sailing aboard IDEC Sport, crossed the Route du Rhum–Destination Guadeloupe's finishing line seven minutes and eight seconds ahead of Francois Gabart (FRA; 35), to set a new course record.
Posted on 12 Nov
Optimist Asian/Oceanian Championship practice day
Teams arrive in Myanmar Yesterday marked the opening day of the 2018 Optimist Asian and Oceanian Championship, hosted by the Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and Resort with the support of the Myanmar Yachting Federation.
Posted on 12 Nov
Joyon snatches record-setting victory
In thrilling finale to Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe In the closest finish since it was first staged in 1978, the French ocean racing veteran Francis Joyon won the 40th anniversary Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race from Saint Malo to Pointe-À-Pitre early this morning.
Posted on 12 Nov
2018 Melges 40 Grand Prix season concludes
Stig, Sikon and Inga on the podium The Lanzarote edition of the Melges 40 Grand Prix season has officially come to a close, as the tenth race has been run and the results are finalized for the 2018 ranking.
Posted on 12 Nov
Minutes separate winners in Route du Rhum finish
Two lead boats Francis Joyon and François Gabart finish just over 7 minutes apart After a hard sail in the opening stanza of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, the two lead boats Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport and François Gabart aboard Macif finished just over seven minutes apart after a thrilling finish at night in Guadeloupe
Posted on 12 Nov
Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final
New Zealand victorious in Miami After a year of qualifying races held all over the world, Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie from New Zealand emerged as the victors of the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final. They've put themselves on the map as future stars in the sport.
Posted on 12 Nov
Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe day 8
A foil and a rudder missing on the MACIF Trimaran "François never gives in," says Thomas Normand of the technical team. "The loss of the foil did not cause sufficient damage to force him to retire. Naturally, these hitches have had an impact on performance, but she is still fighting for a win."
Posted on 11 Nov