Youngest circumnavigating sailor returns

Zac Sunderland, a California teen, has become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. He completed the feat on July 16 at Marina Del Rey, Calif., after more than a year at sea.

From the press release: After 397 days at sea, Zac Sunderland, 17, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo when he docked his 1972 36′ Islander Sailboat today in Marina Del Rey. The record was previously held by David Dicks from Australia, who was 18 years, 41 day when he finished in 1996.

Barely old enough to drive a car, Sunderland set sail from Marina Del Rey on June 14, 2008, in a $6,000 sailboat bought with his personal savings and retrofitted for the journey with more than three months of intense preparation.  Zac’s expedition spanned three oceans and five seas, with stops in more than a dozen ports across the world.

ClearPoint Weather has created an interactive map of Zac’s entire voyage at: featuring blog entries, photos, and position reports.

“It’s hard to comprehend everything I’ve had the privilege to experience,” said Sunderland.  “After more than a year alone at sea, I’m struck by how much people my age can actually achieve, if only they have the passion and ability to think beyond what society tells them is possible.”

Along the journey of almost 28,000 nautical miles, Sunderland faced many life-threatening crises, including unrelenting storms, 30-foot waves, equipment failures, and a near-run in with suspected pirates.  While at sea, Zac fought through a broken boom and bulkhead, battled an electrical fire and repeated engine failure, and overcame a host of other issues that required repairs in ports across the globe.

The American Sailing Association (ASA), the nation’s largest sailing association, will certify Sunderland’s expedition upon his return to Marina Del Rey – verifying his record as the first person under 18 to solo-circumnavigate the globe.  The ASA will mark his achievement with a special award.  A sponsor of Sunderland’s voyage, the ASA estimates that fewer than 250 people in contemporary history have circumnavigated the globe via sailboat, solo.


“We applaud Zac not only for his incredibly inspiring achievement, but also for the attention he brings to the sport of sailing,” Charlie Nobles, executive director of the American Sailing Association (ASA).  “Learning to sail unlocks the world for those who participate – many of our members have entirely changed their lifestyles since learning to sail.”

Throughout his preparation and travels, Sunderland videotaped hundreds of hours of footage with seven cameras.  The amazing video captures Zac during some of his most vulnerable times at sea and has been compiled into a two-part DVD.

“I have been thinking a lot about the trip and the places I have been in the past year,” said Sunderland.  “It will be strange to not have an ocean to cross when I get back, but this journey is just the first of many more adventures to come.”

Sponsors for Sunderland’s trip included Produce for Kids, UK Halsey Sailmakers, ClearPoint Weather, RealSweet, Sunset Tomatoes, Westlake Yacht Club,, Pinkston Group Public Relations, Sunderland’s Yacht Management, Schaefer Marine, Boat US, ScanMar Marine, Spot, Quickline, and Qbaroo.  A full list of sponsors can be found at

By Ocean Navigator