Zac Sunderland

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Zac Sunderland
Zac Sunderland and Arnold Schwarzenegger.jpg
Zac Sunderland (right) with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2009
Zachary Tristan Sunderland[1]

(1991-11-29) November 29, 1991 (age 27)[1]
ResidenceThousand Oaks, California, U.S.
EducationTrinity Pacific Christian School
OccupationFormer sailor
Known forHeld the record as the youngest person to sail solo around the world (with stops and assistance); first person under the age of 18 to complete a solo circumnavigation
TelevisionThe Amazing Race 19 (6th place)
Parent(s)Laurence Sunderland
Marianne Sunderland
WebsiteOfficial website

Zachary Tristan "Zac" Sunderland (born November 29, 1991) is an American former sailor who was the first person under the age of 18 to sail solo around the world.[2] Sunderland completed his trip after 13 months and 2 days at sea on July 16, 2009 at age 17. The record was previously held by Australian David Dicks, and was surpassed on August 27, 2009 by Michael Perham of England. Sunderland is the youngest American to complete a circumnavigation, surpassing Brian Caldwell, who finished in 1996 at age 20. However, Sunderland's record was not recognized by Guinness World Records,[3] or by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

In 2010, one of Sunderland's younger sisters, Abby Sunderland, attempted the feat. She was forced to call off her attempt after her boat was damaged in a storm in the Indian Ocean.

In 2011, Sunderland and his father Laurence participated in the 19th season of The Amazing Race. They ended up in 6th place out of 11 teams and were the sixth team eliminated in Copenhagen, Denmark.[4]

Early life[edit]

The oldest of Marianne and Laurence Sunderland's eight children, Sunderland's first home was a 17-metre (56 ft) Tradewind sailboat. His family sailed in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Mexico. His shipwright father bought a 51 feet (16 m) Aleutian and the family made a three-year cruise of California's Channel Islands, Baja California and mainland Mexico.[5][6]


United StatesUnited States
Name: Intrepid
Operator: Unknown
Status: In port
General characteristics

When Sunderland decided to attempt the circumnavigation, he purchased a 36-foot (11 m) Islander for $6,000, using all of his savings. With his father's assistance, he retrofitted the boat for the trip.[7][8] Sunderland planned to complete his voyage in April 2009 with a maximum time of 18 months.[9] He continued his schooling while sailing, saying, "I have all my books with me. I have one more year to finish at high school and I have to send back my tests (via e-mail) to my mom. She's going to grade them and make sure I am doing well."[10][not in citation given][11][not in citation given]

Sunderland departed from Marina del Rey on June 14, 2008. The Intrepid featured logos of Shuman’s RealSweet, Mastronardi’s Sunset Produce, and his sponsor Produce for Kids, promoting healthy eating and produce consumption for children.[12]

Sunderland crossed the Pacific to his first port of call, the Marshall Islands, then headed west to Papua New Guinea, then Australia, the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Madagascar, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, sailing across the Atlantic, and finally transiting the Panama Canal/Galapagos Islands back to the Pacific and home.

Sunderland initially planned to make 15 to 30 stops around the world, the first of which was to be the Marshall Islands, Micronesia. Due to some minor work needed to be done on the boat, and the desire to reprovision, he re-routed to Hawaii. On July 11, Zac made his first stop at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island before heading on to Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Waikiki, off Diamond Head.[13] He then headed towards the Marshall Islands (about 2,500 miles), on July 16, 2008.[14]

On August 4, 2008, Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing (a sailor in his youth) formally welcomed and congratulated Sunderland in the President's Office on Majuro: "And how is your boat? I remember one time I went with my parents on a 26- or 27-foot canoe and we sailed from Wotje to Arno."[15] The U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Clyde Bishop, welcomed Sunderland to Majuro U.S. Embassy on August 7.[16]

Sailing from Majuro, Sunderland reached Darwin, Australia on September 18, 2008, with a faulty bilge pump and fuel problems forcing him a stop in Papua New Guinea. Sunderland had his first encounter with pirates on October 7 after leaving Darwin. 250 km off the Indonesian coast, in the Indian Ocean near Cocos Islands, he encountered a large 60–70-foot wooden fishing boat without flags. The pirates, after shadowing the Intrepid for some time, eventually lost interest and sped off, but not before Sunderland, as a precaution, had loaded his revolver and locked himself in his cabin.[17][18]

Sunderland endured 25-knot winds and 10-foot seas for more than 24 hours on October 13. Amid continuing engine and fuel problems, a snapped boom, and a broken tiller needing repairs, Sunderland reached Cocos Islands (a.k.a. Keeling Islands) in the eastern Indian Ocean on October 14. He proceeded to Mauritius, thereby completing half of his expedition. Sunderland turned 17 on November 29, 2008, while at sea.[19][20][21][22][23] Sunderland arrived in Durban, South Africa on December 14, after 10 days becalmed. He flew home on December 22 for Christmas and returned to South Africa afterward to resume his journey.[24]

Sunderland took short hops to East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, and finally got to Cape Town, where he had a chance meeting with Mike Perham, who was competing for the record as the world's youngest solo-circumnavigator, and Minoru Saito who, at 75, was making his eighth trip and held the record as the oldest solo, non-stop circumnavigator. After departing Cape Town, Sunderland continued to St. Helena and then across the Atlantic to Grenada. His next stop was Panama, where he crossed the canal into the Pacific. After stops in Mexico to dodge bad weather and repair a bulkhead, Sunderland tacked back up the coast to home, arriving July 16, 2009.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

Sailing route[edit]

  • United States
  • South Africa
  • Marina Chahue, Huatulco (unplanned stop)
  • Puerto de la Navidad Marina, Barra de Navidad (unplanned stop)
  • United States

WSSRC not ratified[edit]

The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), the world sailing authority, complimented Sunderland on his achievement but did not ratify it and further stated that the route did not meet the requirements for a circumnavigation voyage. According to John Reed, Secretary to the WSSRC, Sunderland used an engine at various times during the attempt, stopped, had assistance and did not sail around Cape Horn.[31]

However, the American Sailing Association has ratified it, using less strict rules, just "circumnavigating alone".[30]


On September 19, 2009, Sunderland was Grand Marshal of the 14th annual Route 66 Parade in Duarte, California. On December 12, he was Grand Marshal of the 2009 Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade in Marina del Rey, California.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "California Birth Index, 1905–1995". Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  2. ^ Thomas, Pete (July 17, 2009). "Zac Sunderland completes solo sail around the world". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  3. ^ "British teen becomes youngest to sail world solo". Reuters. August 27, 2009.
  4. ^ Hewitt, Michael (June 23, 2011). "Viewers enraged by 'Killing' finale". Orange County Register. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  5. ^ ", the Live interview". July 16, 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  6. ^ ", Zac Sunderland". Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  7. ^ "RiMajolOnline Represents the People of the Marshall Islands: View topic – American Solo Teen Sailor Expected In Majuro Today". Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  8. ^ "American Teen Zac Sunderland Makes It To Majuro On Solo Voyage". Pacific Magazine. Retrieved August 30, 2008.[dead link]
  9. ^ "CNN's Nicole Lapin interview with Zac Sunderlang, TSN". August 13, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  10. ^ "A Columbus of our dreams." Los Angeles Times. June 23, 2008.
  11. ^ ", Aussie sailor's record under threat". June 16, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  12. ^, 16-year-old sailing the world, promoting produce
  13. ^ ", Zac Sunderland stops in Hawaii on circumnavigation". Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  14. ^ ", Teenager attempting world record sails into Honolulu". Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  15. ^, "Teen Solo Sailor Meets Marshall Islands President[dead link]
  16. ^, Zac Sunderland Meets US Ambassador(sic), Readies To Sail To Australia[dead link]
  17. ^   (October 8, 2008). "Sailor Zac, Sunderland endures first pirate scare". Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  18. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (October 8, 2008). ", Lone sailor's scare". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  19. ^, American Teen Solo Sailor Limps Into Cocos Islands[dead link]
  20. ^   (October 14, 2008). ", Solo sailor Zac Sunderland survives heavy seas, nears halfway point". Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  21. ^ ", What Happened to Zac?". October 7, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  22. ^ ", SoCal Teen Sailor Makes Stop in Australia". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  23. ^ ", Teenage sailor docks in Darwin on world record attempt". September 18, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  24. ^ Independent Newspapers Online (December 14, 2008). ", Round-the-world teen arrives in SA". Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  25. ^ Laven, Kate (February 20, 2009). "Britain's Mike Perham has chance meeting with Minoru Saito". Telegraph. London. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  26. ^ "Forums – Sailing in general – Party Time in Cape Town". Sail Japan. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  27. ^ "Teenage solo circumnavigators meet". Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  28. ^ "Zac Sunderland". Latitude 38 – The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  29. ^ Thomas, Pete (July 17, 2009). "Zac Sunderland completes solo sail around the world". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
  30. ^ a b "Press Room – American Sailing Association". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
  31. ^ Appelbaum, Eliav (June 24, 2009). "Captain Zac returns to a hero's welcome". Simi Valley Acorn. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2010.

External links[edit]