Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 14:25 UK

Young sailor sets global record


Mike Perham: 'I always knew I was going to make it'

A 17-year-old boy has become the youngest person to sail solo around the world after entering UK waters.

Mike Perham, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, has tackled 50ft waves, gale force winds and technical problems during a 30,000-mile circumnavigation.

He left Portsmouth, Hampshire, on 15 November 2008 and celebrated his 17th birthday on the Indian Ocean in March.

His record was set when he crossed a line between Lizard Point and Ushant in France at 0947 BST.

'Very honoured'

Falmouth Coastguards confirmed he had crossed the finish line at Lizard Point, off the Cornish coast.

That means that, subject to verification, he has set a new world record as the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Mike, who is aged 17 years and 164 days, was escorted across the finish line by the Royal Navy guard ship HMS Mersey.

I just always look forward. You've got to have confidence in yourself that you will make it
Mike Perham

He said: "I've made it, I've made my dream come true and it feels amazing.

"I can't believe that the Royal Navy sent HMS Mersey and a helicopter to witness my crossing the line. I feel very honoured."

His father, Peter, said: "Mike is a very special son. He has done incredibly well.

"He has shown that with determination, you can succeed even in the most adverse circumstances.

"He has shown the world that he is an extraordinary young man and an inspiration to us all."

Joined by father

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, sent a message to the teenager on his success.

He said: "This is a remarkable and inspirational achievement in one so young.

"Michael's family have strong maritime connections. His father was a merchant naval officer, his grandfather served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and his great-grandfather was a Royal Marine in the Crimean war.

"The Royal Navy is delighted to participate in welcoming him back home to the UK as an honoured and much-respected fellow seafarer."

After crossing the finish line, Mike was joined by his father to continue sailing back for a homecoming welcome at Portsmouth on Saturday.

Mike originally set off aiming to complete the challenge non-stop but technical problems forced several stay overs, meaning his world record is the youngest solo circumnavigation with assistance.

According to Guinness World Records, the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe, sailing solo, non-stop and unsupported is Jesse Martin, of Australia.

Alison Harper, BBC Southampton
It is nine months since I last saw Mike Perham. He was standing alone heading out from Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth into the Solent, ready for the challenge of his life.

His friends had left him letters for every day of his voyage. There was no doubt that while he may be sailing solo, Mike Perham had plenty of people on the voyage with him.

Thirty minutes after Mike had broken the record, I spoke to him again.

Mike sounded completely drained and utterly exhausted but smiling widely. He said he always knew he was going to make it and admitted the loneliness was the hardest thing to deal with.

But come Saturday, when Mike returns to where it all began he will no longer be alone. Friends and family will be there to greet him - the youngest person to ever solo circumnavigate the globe.

He sailed in Lionheart from Melbourne, Australia, on 8 December 1998 aged 18 years 104 days and returned on October 31 1999, taking 327 days 12hrs 52 mins.

Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, said earlier: "Even the most experienced of sailors would be tested by the mental and physical stamina required to achieve a record of this magnitude.

"Mike achieved it at a young age and this is a testament to his courage and unparalleled sense of adventure."

On his way towards his achievement, Mike said: "It's beginning to sink in what I've done.

"I just always look forward. You've got to have confidence in yourself that you will make it."

The family back home, father Peter, mother Heather and older sister Fiona, say they have been equally thrilled and frightened during Mike's adventure.

Mike's arrival comes as controversy has arisen in Holland where social workers have taken legal action to try to stop 13-year-old Laura Dekker from setting off to break the same record.

They want to make her a ward of court to prevent her parents from being able to give her the go-ahead to undertake the challenge.

Map of Mike Perham's journey

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