Teenagers Mike Perham and Zac Sunderland are attempting to sail round the world, but is Mike sensible setting has his sights on the Southern Ocean?


Full credit to young Mike Perham, the 16-year-old who is attempting to sail an Open 50 single-handed round the world in a bid to become the youngest to do so. He has reached Cape Town, demonstrating that he has some pretty special sailing skills.

Here, he’s hoping to meet up with Zac Sunderland, his American rival, who has also made a stop here on his round the world voyage. Zac is 17 and five months older than Mike Perham.

Mike has undoubtedly had a steep learning curve. As we reported in our January issue, he had very limited previous experience sailing this super-powerful but rather tired boat, which was a very ambitious choice for someone with comparatively little ocean experience.

No less figures than Rod Carr, chief executive of the RYA, and Ellen MacArthur’s business partner Mark Turner pleaded with his Dad to delay the voyage until Mike had more experience, to reconsider the choice of boat and at least to do a transatlantic in her first.

Mike’s track across Biscay suggested that the boat was getting the better of him at times, though for some reason many of the more extreme plots have been removed from the viewer since, smoothing out the track substantially. He has been forced to make two pitstops in Cascais and Las Palmas to make autopilot repairs and, I suspect, a few other things besides.

In abandoning had his plans for a non-stop voyage in favour of the stopping record for the youngest circumnavigator, Mike has ended up learning the boat in stages. So far, it’s an impressive achievement.

But I do hope he and his Dad have been watching the difficulties in the Vendée Globe race and noting that this is an especially hard year in the Southern Ocean. When Mike continues I hope he’ll shape a northerly course across the Indian and Pacific Oceans because: a) time allows it and b) should anything go wrong, the venture is going to look wilfully reckless.

Read more about Mike here and Zac here