MARINA DEL REY -- A teenager from Thousand Oaks received a hero's welcome as he sailed into Marina del Rey this morning, becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe alone.
Zac Sunderland, who began his voyage June 14, 2008 at age 16 -- and has been headed west ever since -- arrived in his homeport around 10:20 a.m. surrounded by at least two dozen boats which met him offshore and followed him along the way.
A crowd of news photographers surrounded Sunderland as he made his way off of the boat and hugged his family.
Zac turned 17 off Africa's Cape of Good Hope and endured storms, suspected pirates and months of solitude along his journey.
The American Sailor's Association, which is one of Zac's sponsors, is expected to certifiy the teen as the youngest person to circumnavigate the Earth alone by sailboat and the first person younger than 18 to have done it.
"The patience, knowledge and fortitude required for such a journey is immeasurable," said Charlie Nobles, executive director of ASA. "And, it's beyond unusual to find those qualities in someone Zac's age. This is an age group we associate with all things instantaneous -- texting, tweeting at a mile per second."
Over the past 13 months, Zac's voyage took him roughly 28,000 miles in a 36-foot boat named "Intrepid" which he bought with $6,000 of his own savings.
Zac crossed the Pacific to his first port of call, the Marshall Islands, then headed west to Papua, New Guinea, then Australia, the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Madagascar, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, sailing across the Atlantic and finally, transiting the Panama Canal back to the Pacific and Marina Del Rey.
The previously home-schooled senior studied on board to finish his high school education during the voyage. He began his journey with more than 15,000 hours of sailing experience.
Zac, the oldest of seven children who was partly raised on a boat, came to his love of sailing through his parents.
He was inspired by Robin Lee Graham's 1974 book "Dove." Graham left Los Angeles on a 24-foot boat when he was 15 and circled the globe, though not alone.
The American Sailing Association estimated that fewer than 250 people have sailed the grand circle alone. Nearly three times as many people have climbed to the top of Mount Everest, according to the organization.
Zac says he may attempt to climb Everest next.
10:34 AM PDT, July 16, 2009
Tags: US, Teen, Youngest, to, Circle, the, Globe, Solo, ,
Location: Marina Del Rey, California, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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