Monday, June 14, 2010

Abby Sunderland

Some of you may recall awhile back when I posted here about Zac Sunderland, who set the record (since broken) as the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. Younger people have made the trip since, but he was the first under 18 to achieve it.

Zac comes from a family of sailors, so it's not much surprise that his sister--Abby Sunderland--had the same dream of sailing around the world as soon as possible. She set out to do just this, and after coming 2/3 of the way around the world (many thousands of miles) and making only one stop for repairs, she ran into a massive storm in the Indian Ocean that broke her mast (thus making her boat, Wild Eyes, unsailable).

Generally speaking, people tend to focus on the question of whether it was appropriate or safe for her parents to allow a sixteen year old girl to attempt to sail around the world. Of course, both she and her parents say that Abby was as prepared and capable as any sailor could be. She has a lifetime of sailing experience, superb training, an incredible support team (including everything from fitness trainers to nutritionists to meteorologists to marine electricians), and the best equipment available. Her boat (which was lost, unfortunately) was an Open 40, a design specifically intended for open-ocean solo sailing in the treacherous southern oceans. It has multiple sealed air chambers to keep the boat is case of hull rupture, and is designed to self-right automatically if capsized. There are numerous other safety systems that Abby had on board, including a life raft, ditch-bag, and various emergency beacons.

I think the risk of her sailing around the world is probably comparable to allowing a teenager to participate in any other sport, let alone driving! Growing up is about learning to manage risk.

According to Abby, the failure of the mast was one of those things, not indicative of her skill as a sailor or her age.

If you are into sailing, you may enjoy reading Abby's blog from the beginning to now. She has had many fine adventures on Wild Eyes and says with good reason that it the most enjoyable thing she has ever done.

Would I allow Henry to take such a trip? Sure, if I felt he was able to handle it! But, then, I'm a Moss and we have always encouraged Wanderlust in our children.


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