Teenage sailor prepares for record-breaking solo circumnavigation of globe

MARINA DEL REY — A 16-year-old girl is expected to set sail on a 24,500-mile trek to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo, it was reported today.

Abigail Sunderland is looking to one-up her brother Zac, now 18, who set off in 2008 and become at the time the youngest to do so and the first under age 18, the Daily News reported.

Zac's record has since been broken by British teenager Mike Perham, who is a few months younger.

Abigail will be aboard Wild Eyes, a 40-foot, custom-designed sailboat that has been outfitted for a trip expected to take four to six months.

"I'm going to do it without stopping,'' Sunderland told the Daily News. "I'll have to do my own repairs at sea.''

Her goal is to be on schedule in the planned fourth month of the nonstop voyage, and beat the bitter Southern Hemisphere winter with its legendary storms.

"Weather is always a concern. It doesn't matter if you're going out in the perfect time of the year,'' Abigail's father, Laurence Sunderland, a British-trained shipwright who runs a yacht management company, said.

Laurence and his wife, Marianne, told the newspaper that they have raised their seven children on boats, and that both Zac and Abigail are accomplished sailors. Laurence believes Abigail is better prepared for the voyage than Zac was.

The Sunderlands told the Daily News they will stay in touch with Abigail through daily satellite phone calls, as they did with Zac, but they have also equipped Abigail's boat with a broadband system that is like a mobile radio station.