- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

HOBART, AUSTRALIA (AP) - A 17-year-old British sailor said Sunday he was confident of beating a U.S. rival into the record books as the youngest person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe despite a fourth repair stop in Australia about halfway through his trouble-plagued voyage.

Mike Perham of Potters Bar in Hertsfordshire, England, and Zac Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, California, are both 17-year-old adventurers who for months have been sailing solo around the world.

Since Perham set sail from Portsmouth, England, on Nov. 15 for what was to be a nonstop four-and-a-half month journey, he has been forced to dock for repairs in Lisbon, the Canary Islands and Cape Town in South Africa.

He sailed his 50-foot (15-meter) yacht into Australia’s most southerly city, Hobart, on Saturday for precautionary repairs to a rudder, battery recharger and ballast pump.

The recharger had been defective since a large wave tipped the yacht over in the Antarctic Ocean just over a week before reaching Hobart.

Perham, who celebrated his 17th birthday at sea on March 16, said Sunday he expected to set sail again on Tuesday after the glue had dried on the rudder repairs.

He now expects to finish the rest of the 24,000-mile (39,000-kilometer) journey nonstop by early June.

“It’s a little frustrating because I am a little behind schedule, but that’s life,” Perham told The Associated Press while ordering a hamburger in Hobart.

“It won’t be plain sailing, but I’ve done the hardest part now,” he added, referring to the mountainous Antarctic seas.

Perham expected to finish a few weeks before Sunderland returns to Marina Del Rey in Southern California in his slower 36-foot (11 meter) sailboat. But if not, Perham’s four-month age advantage would win him the record.

“Zac is older by a few months so when I finish, I’ll be younger,” Perham said.

According to Guinness World Records, the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo was 18-year-old Australian David Dicks in 1996. The record is judged on the age of the sailor when the circumnavigation is completed.

Sunderland first set sail from California on June 15 last year as a 16-year-old but had taken a more leisurely approach until his British rival joined the race.

His Web site said he had been stuck with mechanical problems at St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic until late March but had since set sail for the final 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) of the voyage via Panama to California.

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On the Net: https://www.totallymoney.com/sailmike

https://www.zacsunderland.com

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