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US Teen Sailor Awaits Rescue Off Australia

Friday, 11 Jun 2010 01:24 PM

LOS ANGELES — The parents of a 16-year-old sailor stranded in the Indian Ocean defended their daughter's solo round the world record attempt Friday as the teenager awaited rescue from her stricken yacht.

Abby Sunderland became the center of an international rescue effort when her 40-foot sailboat "Wild Eyes" was dismasted by mountainous waves as the youngster attempted a treacherous winter crossing of the Indian Ocean.

Fears for the youngster's safety mounted after her parents lost contact with her shortly before two emergency beacons on the craft were activated on Thursday.

Australia scrambled a chartered passenger jet from Perth to scour seas some 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) away and finally spotted Sunderland before establishing radio contact with the sailor.

Sunderland, who was reported to be safe and in good spirits Friday, is now waiting to be plucked from the ocean by a French ship diverted to her location, which is expected to arrive sometime on Saturday.

After expressing relief that their daughter had been found safe, Sunderland's parents on Friday rejected criticism of their child's attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

"The fact is whether a teenager, or a young adult or a middle-aged person, there have been many rescues that have taken place," father Laurence Sunderland told NBC television's Today program.

He cited the example of French yachtswoman Isabelle Autissier, rescued from her capsized yacht in the southern Pacific Ocean in 1999 during the solo round-the-world race.

"Do we say that she shouldn't go out there and sail or that nobody should go out and sail because you face hard knocks and sometimes people need to be rescued? I don't think so," Sunderland said.

"Abigail's campaign unfortunately had a blow with the masting out there in the Indian Ocean and she's proven herself on more than one occasion before now to deal with the adversities of the ocean.

"She's proven herself capable of dealing with this. This is more of a testimony to her will to survive and deal with the situation than a travesty that she went out there at all."

Mother Marianne Sunderland meanwhile said the family had sought to minimize the risks of the voyage by having a comprehensive support team in place.

But she doubted whether her daughter would ever attempt such a hazardous record attempt again.

"I am definitely having a bit of a knee jerk reaction," she told CNN. "I don't want anyone going anywhere. (Abby) loves sailing. I don't think she will attempt anything of this magnitude again.

"I am sure she will be out to sea again someday."

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LOS ANGELES — The parents of a 16-year-old sailor stranded in the Indian Ocean defended their daughter's solo round the world record attempt Friday as the teenager awaited rescue from her stricken yacht.
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2010-24-11
Friday, 11 Jun 2010 01:24 PM
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