Sunderland youngest to solo Cape Horn

Other than a complete circumnavigation, doubling Cape Horn is one of the more impressive feats a sailor can accomplish. And to do so while sailing solo is even more notable. And being the youngest person ever to do it, makes it historic (at least until some other squirt comes along and does it). Sixteen-year-old Californian sailor Abby Sunderland has just set the current record. She achieved the feat on Wednesday, March 31.  

From the press release: Abby Sunderland, a 16 year-old girl from Thousand Oaks, CA, yesterday became the youngest person to sail solo around Cape Horn, the most southerly point of South America, accomplishing what many refer to as the Mt. Everest in sailing. Passing between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula is yet another milestone on her quest to become the youngest person in history to solo circumnavigate the globe unassisted and non-stop aboard ‘Wild Eyes,’ her Open 40 racing sailboat.

Abby Sunderland set sail on her historic adventure on January 23, 2010 from Marina Del Rey, CA under sunny skies and light winds. On February 19, 2010, Sunderland crossed the equator from the northern to the southern hemisphere. In the old sailing tradition, this transformed her from a ‘pollywog’ to a ‘shellback.’  On March 14, 2010 she crossed the 40th degree of latitude and entered what sailors respectfully call the ‘Roaring 40’s.’ Within a week, Sunderland had entered the ‘Furious 50’s.’

Today, battling hazardous conditions, Sunderland crossed from the Pacific Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean. Harsh wind, rain and cold temperatures tested Sunderland, but she remains in good spirits. By satellite phone, she told a reporter from the LA Times, “It’s the milestone I’ve been waiting for. It’s pretty much the hardest part of my trip, and now it’s over so it’s really great being here.â€

As promised, Sunderland keeps her Blogger, Facebook and Twitter fans worldwide updated on her global adventure. Sunderland is “SoloRound†on Blogger and was able to blog at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, “I rounded Cape Horn today,†thanked her team and detailed her cold and wet historical day.

Her parents, Laurence and Marianne, are deeply proud. “Abby has done a remarkable job and we are all extremely proud of her. She has amazed us with her attitude and everything else, so we know she has the stamina to do this,†Marianne said.

With winter dangerously close in the Southern Hemisphere, Sunderland is consulting with weather experts on the best routes as she begins the Southern Ocean portion of her easterly journey, crossing the Atlantic and Indian oceans beneath Africa and Australia.

Sunderland embarked five months after her older brother, Zac Sunderland, completed a westerly solo circumnavigation at the age of 17. The journey is also similar to Australia’s Jessica Watson, who is five months older than Abby Sunderland. Watson set sail in mid-October and is currently in the Indian Ocean on the home stretch to Sydney, Australia.

Sunderland looks forward to a successful return to Southern California in the summer of 2010.

By Ocean Navigator