Sunderland was 16 when he left Marina del Rey
— a voyage that included encounters with pirates and wild
He was in constant contact with his family via
satellite and met his father at several places en route.
"It's been a crazy 13 months," said Sunderland,
hugging his younger siblings.
His family, friends and hundreds of onlookers cheered
as his 36-foot (11 m) Intrepid boat entered the harbor. Also
on hand was a team from the American Sailing Association,
which certified his accomplishment. The younger Sunderland
mainly ate freeze-dried and canned foods, with one of his
sponsors providing fresh vegetables. His father's company,
Sunderland's Yacht Management & Shipwrights, was his
Sunderland said his toughest challenge was the
sleep deprivation when his boat broke down and he needed to
guide it through the night.
His father, shipwright Laurence Sunderland, met
him at various stops and helped him repair damage to the boat
while Zac surfed.
During the leg from Australia to the Coco Islands,
he said that pirates followed him and he was forced to call
Australian authorities to scare them off.
"I had this boat following me all over the place
and circling," Sunderland said. He said he was humbled by
meeting people around the world who live in poor conditions.
"In other countries, 13 people are living
in a dirt hut and when you meet them, they're the most kindest,
generous people," Sunderland said. He also encouraged adults
to trust more in the abilities of teenagers.
"There's so much more potential to what young
people can do. Go out there and do your own thing," he told
He beat a record that held by an Australian who
was over 18 when he completed the voyage in 1996.
But even now, Sunderland's record being
challenged: Mike Perham, a British sailor a few months
younger is attempting the solo circumnavigation in a bigger,
faster boat and is expected to complete his own round-the-world
trip in about three weeks time. Jessica
Watson, a 15-year-old Aussie, is planning her own
nonstop trip later this summer. There are still tickets
available for Jessica’s
Bon Voyage dinner next Saturday, July 25 at Novotel
Twin Waters Resort.