Abby Sunderland abandons nonstop around the world quest

Abby Sunderland, one of two 16-year-old girls on different quests to sail around the world alone, nonstop and unassisted, has announced she will head to Cape Town, South Africa, to repair a faulty autopilot system.
The high-school junior from Thousand Oaks, Calif., stressed on her blog that she will continue her journey after making repairs and seek to become simply the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the planet in a sailboat.
Jessica Watson, Sunderland’s Australian counterpart, is expected to complete her nonstop circumnavigation attempt in late May. Watson, who is five months older than Sunderland, is enduring severe weather aboard her 34-foot pink sailboat as she travels beneath Australia en route to her finish point at Sydney Harbor. Watson left Sydney last October.
Sunderland, who departed from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in early February aboard a 40-foot vessel, has been experiencing trouble with her autopilot system for the past several weeks, including during a precarious passage around treacherous Cape Horn at South America’s tip.
At one point recently, in rough seas and freezing temperatures, the intrepid mariner had to hand-steer from the stern deck for 24 consecutive hours.
Laurence Sunderland, Abby’s father, will fly to Cape Town and help Abby with repairs.
The father added that Abby’s older brother Zac made 13 stops and still became a hero during a solo-circumnavigation he completed, at 17, last July.
To put these adventures into perspective, more than 3,000 people have successfully climbed Mt. Everest during the past 56 years. According to the American Sailing Assn., fewer than 250 people have sailed alone around the world since Joshua Slocum logged the first documented solo-circumnavigation in 1898.

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