The world record for the youngest solo-circumnavigation was broken twice this summer. In July, 17-year-old American sailor Zac Sunderland finished his single-handed globe-girdling trip. Sunderland’s record was broken on August 27, however, when British sailor Mike Perham completed his circumnavigation off the Lizard, in Cornwall, England. Perham is two months younger than Sunderland, giving him the record. Perham also holds the record for the youngest person to sail solo trans-Atlantic — having completed that feat three years ago at age 14.
Perham’s slightly longer than five-month voyage aboard his Open 50, Totallymoney.com, was a sponsored effort. Major sponsors included TotallyMoney, VocaLink and Skechers. After crossing the finish line, Perham said: “I’ve made it, I’ve made my dream come true and it feels amazing. A big, big thanks to my Dad, Mum, all the sponsors and every one who has helped me along the way.” Perham had to stop during the trip for repairs to his boat.
Earlier in the summer, on July 16, 17-year-old Zac Sunderland arrived safely at Marina del Rey, Calif., after 13 months of solo sailing, completing his quest to become the youngest sailor to circle the globe alone. His feat broke the previous record held by Australia’s Jesse Martin, who was 18 when he finished in 1999. Sunderland held the record for a mere 42 days before Perham set the new mark.
Sunderland arrived at Marina del Rey aboard his 36-foot sloop Intrepid, at about 1000 to the cheers of family and friends.
Sunderland is the oldest of seven siblings, is home schooled and has spent a good deal of his time in boats. After departing Marina del Rey on June 14, 2008 he celebrated his 17th birthday off the Cape of Good Hope.
The young sailor’s voyage was not without peril. He endured gale force winds in the Indian Ocean, had an encounter with suspected pirates off the coast of Indonesia, was swamped by a rogue wave near Grenada, and experienced long windless periods. Near the end of his epic voyage, his return was delayed when a broken bulkhead forced him to make call at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where his shipwright father met him to assist in fixing the boat. Via satellite phone, his parents provided him with advice and encouragement.
With the circumnavigation behind him, Sunderland plans to write a book and encourage others to follow their dreams.