Zac Sunderland returns home today to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe

Today (16 July), 17 year-old Californian Zac Sunderland is due back in the United States having set two world records – the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe on a sailboat solo, and as the first person to have ever set this record under the age of 18. The American Sailing Association will officially certify these records upon Sunderland’s return.

Sunderland, who left Marina del Rey in California when he was 16 years old, has encountered experiences and conditions in the past year that few people are in position to appreciate or to comprehend.

“Imagine starting this trip at age 16 and doing this alone,” said Charlie Nobles, executive director of the ASA. “Consider the patience this voyage entails – people don’t realise that much of the time, you are travelling at a speed under three miles per hour. At times, the wind literally stops – it can be hours, days or weeks until the wind returns and the boat can get moving again. The patience, knowledge and fortitude required for such a journey is immeasurable. And, it’s beyond unusual to find those qualities in someone Zac’s age – this is an age group we associate with all things instantaneous – texting, tweeting at a mile per second.”

17 year-old Brit Mike Perham, who is hoping to soon complete his solo sail around the world, is currently in Panama while mechanics work on his engine. He wrote in his blog:

“I really do offer my heartfelt congratulations. Very few people can even begin to realise how much Zac and his family have put into his project. I met up with Zac in Cape Town, South Africa and it was really great to spend some time with him and his father and compare loads of different things about our trips, from financial concerns, to great funny stories from our trips around the world. They were really down to earth people, and always had a smile on their faces.” Click here to read more.