Page last updated at 21:29 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 22:29 UK

US sailor, 17, sets solo record


Zac Sunderland sailing into harbour

An American teenager has become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Zac Sunderland, 17, completed the 45,000km (28,000-mile) voyage in 13 months, facing storms, equipment breakdown and suspected pirates.

Hundreds of people cheered as he sailed his 11m (36ft) yacht, the Intrepid, into Marina Del Rey, California.

Zac Sunderland told the BBC that the experience had been tough but he had never thought of giving up.

He told the crowds waiting in his home state: "It's awesome to be back."

He said he had learned a lot about the world during his travels.

"In other countries, 13 people are living in a dirt hut and when you meet them, they're the kindest, most generous people," he said.

Zac Sunderland describes how it feels to be back home

The teenager set sail from Marina del Rey on 14 June last year.

He was in constant contact with his family via satellite and met his father at several places en route.

During his time at sea, he ate mostly freeze-dried food and suffered sleep deprivation when his yacht was damaged.

He also had a close encounter with suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean, when they circled his boat before apparently being scared off.

Rival attempt

Zac may only have a short time to enjoy his new world record.

A younger sailor, Mike Perham from the UK, is expected to complete his own round-the-world trip in about three weeks time.

The American said he was not too concerned by that.

"Someone's going to beat it some day," he said.

He added that he was already planning his next challenge.

"I'm hoping to set off on my next adventure soon - Mount Everest or to the Arctic Circle," he said.

Map showing Zac Sunderland's projected route round the world

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