Abby Rescued at Sea by French Ship

Abby Sunderland, the teen sailor feared lost at sea, is found about 2,000 miles southwest of Australia

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Abby Sunderland

    Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old Thousand Oaks girl whose attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world was derailed when her boat was crippled, has been rescued by a French ship, her parents said.

    The teen sailor was located aboard her boat, "Wild Eyes," by searchers aboard an Airbus A330. She was found about 2,000 miles southeast of Madagascar and 2,000 miles southwest of Australia. A French fishing boat reached her early Saturday.

    Laurence Sunderland, Abby's father, said to reporters outside his home that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority contacted him and confirmed the rescue, The Assocated Press reported.

    "She got out of her vessel with the clothes on her back," he said, "and we are just really excited and ecstatic that Abigail is in safe hands. She was in good spirits ... She talked to her mother."

    Abby later addressed the criticism about what happened to her, particuarly regarding her age and the time of year, in her blog post dated Saturday: "The truth is, I was in a storm and you don't sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm. Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world." She added: "As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?"

    She was attempting to break the record briefly held by her older brother, Zac, dropped out of contact early Thursday after emergency beacons on her boat signaled she was in trouble. Abby encountered heavy seas with 20-25 foot waves at the time of last contact, with 35-knot winds, according to her mother, MaryAnne Sunderland.

    Q&A With Zac Sunderland

    [LA] Q&A With Zac Sunderland
    Zac Sunderland answers questions after returning from his historic journey. (Published Thursday, Jul 16, 2009)

    "The wind is beginning to pick up," Abby wrote in her blog from the Indian Ocean on Wednesday. "It is back up to 20 knots and I am expecting that by midnight tonight I could have 35-50 knots with gusts up to 60 so I am off to sleep before it really picks up."

    That night, the rough conditions knocked her down twice during the night breaking the radar off the boat.  Abby had been speaking with her support team engineer Jeff Casher via satellite telephone and complained of engine problems. She was in the process of fixing them when she told Casher she'd call right back. She never did, triggering the massive search.

    Abby departed Marina del Rey January 23, 2010 in her quest to circumnavigate the globe. Her hopes of making the record-setting journey nonstop were dashed in April when her auto-pilot failed and she was forced to stop for repairs in Cape Town, South Africa.