Abby’s adventure seems to be on every news station including the Weather Channel and now she’s added fuel to the fire by posting that she will try again. Most of the negative press seems to be focused on why the heck she was out there in the first place. After being rescued Abby rejected criticism about her age and dismissed suggestions that she should not have tried to cross the Indian Ocean in winter.
“There are plenty of things people can think of to blame for my situation; my age, the time of year and many more,” she wrote on her blog.
“The truth is I was in a storm and you don’t sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm.
Some have heaped criticism on her parents for allowing her to sail the Indian Ocean during the winter season.
Abby disagrees, “It wasn’t the time of year it was just a Southern Ocean storm. Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world. As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?”
She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “I’m definitely going to sail around the world again or really give it another try.
“I’ve wanted to sail around the world for years and am definitely going to do it sometime.” The California-based teenager had set sail from Los Angeles on Jan 23 in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone without stopping.
She successfully rounded the southern tip of South America but later had equipment problems and had to stop for repairs in South Africa in April.
She then decided to continue with her round-the-world voyage anyway and had just reached the halfway point when her boat succumbed to the weather.
Her father Laurence Sunderland, a shipwright, said his daughter had thousands of miles of solo sailing experience before she set out and he had scrutinized her skills.
He said: “This was not a flippant decision. Abigail’s been raised on the ocean all her life. She’s lived over half her life on yachts. This is like second nature to Abigail.”
He said the team of experts that worked on Wild Eyes and the circumnavigation project were “second to none.”
During a TV interview with The Today Show on CBS, Laurence commented on how Isabelle Autissier was sailing in the 1999 Around Alone Race for the third time. She was leading in its third leg when—halfway between New Zealand and Cape Horn—a huge wave hit her yacht PRB and caused its autopilot to malfunction. The boat capsized. She had only enough time to slam the waterproof hatch behind her to prevent the cabin from flooding. Autissier activated her emergency beacons, but she was far from shipping lanes and out of the range of the rescue services. Fortunately another racing yacht was close to her position and was able to rescue her 20 hours after the knockdown. Autissier returned shortly thereafter. His comment?
“You don’t hear people saying that 35 year old women shouldn’t be sailing around the world alone, do you?”
Blue Water Sailing Publisher George Day was quoted on (of all things!) HollywoodLife.com (“Your Celebrity News, Gossip and Style BFF”) when asked what he thought about whether parents should allow their kids to sail around the world alone:
“It seems like a challenging and dangerous journey but it’s not unique — a number of other teenage sailors have successfully made the voyage.”
Day is very familiar with the whole situation including the sailboat that Abby used — in fact, he said that Abby’s family purchased the boat in Rhode Island, where he’s based. “The boat had already been around the world and was equipped with sophisticated communications systems, navigation systems and back up systems.”
In his professional opinion, her 40 ft boat was actually an excellent ocean-going size. When it comes to safety in the ocean “it’s not necessarily how big the boat, but the experience of the skipper,” he insisted.
But could a 16-year-old ever be experienced enough to handle a solo global sail trip? Day countered that Sunderland did have enough experience after growing up in a seafaring family.”
Our hearts and prayers are with her now, in what must be a very difficult time for her. She will probably lose her yacht to the Indian Ocean depths and must now start over from scratch. She has made it clear that she intends to complete her quest, some day.
Now safe on a French fishing boat, Abby wrote this weekend on her Blog, “Wild Eyes and my trip have been the best thing I have ever done or been through and I don’t ever want to forget all the great times we have had together, or the bad ones for that matter. The story of Wild Eyes is over, but my story is still going.” Here, here! Abby. We are happy that you are safe and soon to be reunited with your loved ones.
The American Sailing Association confirmed it had refused the teenager’s appeal for help, fearing commercial endorsement might encourage her to take too many risks. “We chose not to be sponsors of Abigail because we did have concerns about the timing of her departure,” said executive director Charlie Nobles. Abby’s route placed her in the treacherous Indian Ocean during the notoriously tough winter months. “She had a lot of sponsors that were behind her and I think that puts pressure on her,” Mr Nobles said. “We made a prudent decision not to contribute to that.” From: SailingScuttlebutt.com.