16-yr old reaches latest stop in circumnavigation

Californian teenager Zac Sunderland, who is looking to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo arrived in Darwin, Australia yesterday.

Zac left Marina del Rey, California, on 14 June this year in his Islander 36,Intrepid. To achieve his aims, the 16-year-old must return to Southern California by January 2010. He hopes to complete the voyage by April 2009.

Three weeks ago, he was nearing Papua New Guinea and braving squalls and huge seas. En route to Darwin he has called at Hawaii and the Marshall Islands, and is planning to stay in the Australian port for a week.

‘It’s good to start walking again, feels weird, but it’s good,’ he told Sail-World . His father Laurence has flown out from California to see him. ‘I’m amazed at how well he looks and how he’s doing. I’m a very proud dad.’

The young sailor is confident he’ll break the records of Australian David Dicks, who finished his round-the-world voyage aged 18.

After Darwin, it’s on to South Africa via the Indian Ocean, where severe storms are predicted. But he says he’s faced some tough sailing so far. ‘The squalls around the equator are pretty crazy. I had good 40 knot squalls and stuff and big seas.

‘You don’t really have time to be scared out there, it’s more like just dealing with it. If you get scared, you mess up.’

Keep up with his his progress on his blog. 

Meanwhile British teenager Michael Perham, who became the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic last year, is planning a non-stop round the world voyage in an Open 50 – but if he wants to beat David Dicks’ record, he has a race against time on his hands. See Elaine Bunting’s Yachting World blog for more…