Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Abby Sunderland

In January, 16-year-old Abby Sunderland attempted to become the youngest person to complete a solo trip around the world by sailboat without stopping or getting any outside assistance. (Her older brother Zac was the first sailor to circumnavigate before reaching age 18.) Sunderland began the trip from her home state of California, then restarted after she had to make some repairs in Mexico. Autopilot problems later forced her to make a pit stop in Cape Town, ending her quest to break the record for youngest nonstop trip, but she continued sailing, in the hopes of becoming the youngest to complete an unassisted circumnavigation. But in mid-June, her mast broke in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, which knocked out her ability to communicate via satellite phone. After she was rescued, critics assailed her father for shopping around a reality show during the months she was at sea. The Sunderland incident also renewed the debate about whether certain forms of thrill seeking warrant age requirements.