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May 21st, 2009
11:00 PM ET

Sailing around the globe...and not even 18!

Zac Sunderland on his boat.
Zac Sunderland on his boat.
Mike Perham holds the world record for being the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic all alone.
Mike Perham holds the world record for being the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic all alone.

David Puente
AC360° Producer

Zac Sunderland is sailing around the globe on his own and he's only 17, intent on becoming the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe. He's expected back in California next month, exactly where he started almost a year ago.

Sunderland says he was destined to live the "sailor's life". He comes from a family of yachtsmen and as a young child was "deciphering Lat/Longs, not streets and avenues."

But during what he hopes is his record-breaking voyage, a slightly younger sailor Mike Perham from England embarked upon a similar quest in a larger, faster boat, and threatens to upstage his Yankee counterpart.

Perham holds the world record for being the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic all alone.

I spoke to American Zac Sunderland today who says he and Perham have become good friends since meeting up in South Africa during their voyages. Now Sunderland is in Panama and heading north hoping to reach the California coast next month. Here's my chat with him via skype:

AC360° Producer David Puente talks to Zac Sunderland in Panama.
AC360° Producer David Puente talks to Zac Sunderland in Panama.

Check out Zac Sunderland's web site and track his progress:

Zac Sunderland's web site: http://www.zacsunderland.com

Follow David Puente on Twitter @puenteac360

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Jim Doran

    Whether Mike beats Zacs time really doesn't matter. Zac has had a real adventure and got to see a lot of the world and experience meeting locals and their cul;ture in all his stops. By going fast without many stops Mike won't have the same adventure.
    On the other hand, Mike is setting himself up to become a solo ocean racer-a rare breed.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  2. Dave

    I've been following Zac's and his family's journey since he left California. Good interview. I wish you had provided more coverage during the earlier legs of the journey. This is inspirational news. Too many people, myself included, drown our dreams to make ends meet.

    May 25, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  3. Kris May

    Great follow up CNN! Has been a fantastic journey to follow with Zac! What a remarkable young man. We need to follow more stories of our young people!

    May 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  4. M Sullivan

    thanks for reporting on this. i've been following his story. it's amazing!

    May 24, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  5. derek

    Tks for the interest CNN, young people need all the motivation they can get these days. (a alot of us adults too)

    May 24, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  6. Marianne

    Thank you CNN for covering this great story. Fascinating!

    May 24, 2009 at 12:28 am |
  7. Anne

    Our family has been following Zac's journey since last June. He is a great example of following a dream with courage, perseverence, and creativity. Thanks to CNN for the coverage. We hope to see even more in the next few weeks!

    May 23, 2009 at 9:51 pm |
  8. s/v aquarius

    Thanks for this coverage on CNN... better than all the gloomy stuff we have been hearing over the past year or so.... and as a sailor and a parent of teens, I SO appreciate it!

    May 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  9. Wes

    Good luck, Zac!!

    May 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  10. Susan

    What a great story about a fine young man. After looking over his website and reading his blog, anyone would be impressed by his story and his very supportive family and circle of friends. Looking forward to more news about this amazing young man.

    May 23, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  11. Laura

    I've been reading Zac's blog and following him for months. Just saw his tiny boat go through the Panama Canal with all the tankers. It was great to see CNN covering this wonderful story. Safe return journey, Zac! You're almost home.

    May 23, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  12. Mitch Parker

    Thanks for posting this interview. Its good to know that some youth are doing positive things!

    May 23, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  13. allison

    A "real adventure" indeed! Now how do we go to meet Zac when he returns?

    May 23, 2009 at 5:38 am |
  14. Janice

    I would like to thank CNN and Anderson Cooper for interviewing Zac about his historical sail around the world. As an air chair supporter from the start of his journey, I am very proud of our local SoCal young man.

    May 23, 2009 at 4:27 am |
  15. jojo

    Sweet congrats Zack you got Mr. Cooper and Mr Puente to write a story about your journey. Thanks for the coverage...

    May 23, 2009 at 4:04 am |
  16. David Benson

    Zac: It has been more than a year since I started working on your boat. It has been many months, and I have followed your every step of the way. Sometimes I think of the gold coin I put in your head....do you still have it? I am moving to Oregon in June and will miss your home coming. You have done a remarkable job and I,as will so many people are very proud of you. Sometime I hope we will cross paths again. When things settle down, I would like to hear from you. David

    May 23, 2009 at 2:05 am |
  17. Anthony Cardno

    Great coverage on Zac and his adventure. There is another young American vying to set a record: John Collinson (www.johnnycollinson.com) is aiming to be the youngest person to climb all of the Seven Summits in one year. John turned 17 last month and has completed two of the summits already, including Everest just last week. Perhaps Anderson could cover John's story as well, and keep us posted on the progress of both of these amazingly motivated young men throughout their journeys.

    May 23, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  18. Andy

    Thanks AC360 for following these young adventurers. I'm anticipating a win win for both of these guys. Great story!

    May 23, 2009 at 1:13 am |
  19. MrBob

    Go Zac!!!

    I have been following this most awesome adventure since the planning stages. It is great to see that CNN is providing this great coverage. We need more stories on youth making contributions to the human spirit.

    Thank you CNN!!!

    Keep the wind to you back and the sails strong.

    May 23, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  20. Liz S

    ac360/CNN
    Thanks so much for covering Zac Sunderland and his great adventure.
    It's been wonderful following him as an arm chair sailor.
    I've been able to teach my young daughters all about the cool places he's stopped and even brush up on some of my own geography skills.
    If all works out, we'll be there to see him arrive in Marina Del Rey.
    We wish him all the best on his travels home.
    Sail on friend!!

    May 22, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  21. Barry Kessler

    I've been following Zac's journey from the day he left Marina Del Rey via his daily blog. What a story! What an extraordinary young man and a wonderful family he has.
    Thanks to CNN for your coverage. This is a real feel good and inspirational news story.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  22. Sue Roberts

    Wow, great to hear about good things our youth are doing.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:36 pm |
  23. scott

    Robin Graham circumnavigated the globe when he was 16 years old by himself. His is an amazing story written in the book "Dove" and "Home is the Sailor"

    May 22, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  24. Kate

    Terrific to hear good news about such an outstanding American teen.
    So proud of him!

    May 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  25. roseann

    I've been following Zac's journey from the comfort of my living room for the past 11 months - what an inspiration he is! I hope others, especially young people, are reminded to follow their dreams. Zac and his team have worked tirelessly to make this happen. Way to go! Sail Fast to So Cal!

    May 22, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  26. Laura Mac

    Thanks CNN i have been following Zac from the start and can't get enough!!

    May 22, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  27. helen

    Thanks for the piece. We are proud of you Zac

    May 22, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  28. Karen Wagner

    I have been following Zac a least two weeks before he left California, He is an amazing and courageous young man and his parents should be very proud of him. My prayers will be with you for the rest of your trip as I have through your whole voyage.

    May 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  29. Denise

    Loved the article and hearing about Zac. I wish him the best of luck on his journey home.

    May 22, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  30. Janet

    Thanks for following Zac! Please continue broadcasting more stories on Zac. . A great journey by an awesome young man! Zac, I salute you!!! Best of luck on the rest of your journey home.

    May 22, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  31. Isabel

    Young people with courage and Pathfinders! This is what the world needs nowadays!

    If people are more behind their dreams, they might not be so frustrated!

    Congratulations Zac! I hope this is the first audacious challenges in your life!

    May 22, 2009 at 8:07 pm |
  32. SoCal Gal

    Way to go Zac! Can't wait to see you when you return to MDR! You are a true inspiration! Be safe and have fun!

    May 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  33. Jerry

    CNN thanks for covering ZAC. Please continue its a great adventure and he has a great family supporting him. I think a CNN sponsorship would be a great idea.

    May 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  34. Juan Siaba

    The boy should be studying. It is encouraging to bum!

    May 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  35. Juan Siaba

    He is slacker!!!

    May 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  36. Juan Siaba

    What is this?
    Buell Ferris's Day Off or Zac Sunderland's Year Off?

    It is so refreshing to hear about a young person on a 'real' adventure rather than on a killing spree.

    The boy should be studying. It is encouraging to bum!

    May 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  37. Don, WA

    Cool story – fair winds and safe journey to you Zac, keep her trim home.

    May 22, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  38. Sally Reuther

    Great coverage on Zac's journey. Thanks for airing it! He's an awesome kid and has done a tremendous job on his journey around alone.

    May 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  39. L. Rush

    Wonderful piece! Inspiring to read about this young man following his dream. Hope you'll do more on him.

    May 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  40. Brian Beers

    Thanks so much for covering Zac's story. I have been following him since his departure and it sure has been a great ride. Like Zac I was inspired to sail by Robin on Dove. Back then you had to wait months if not a year for updates in National Geographic. I still sail but never made the "journey". I'm so proud of Zac and thanks again for the coverage. Brian

    May 22, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  41. JRice

    I have been following Zac since last June, I am thankful you picked up on this inspiring story. What a welcome relief from some of the news stories we see get major coverage.
    Thanks, John

    May 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  42. misterbryant

    Nice story, Mr. Puente. I'm rooting for Sunderland. Nice conversation too. Keep up the good work!

    May 22, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  43. Mike Murray KMXT Kodiak

    Nice coverage CNN!
    Top Notch.

    May 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  44. B Engle

    Thank you so much for writing about Zac Sunderland. It is so refreshing to hear about a young person on a 'real' adventure rather than on a killing spree.

    May 22, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  45. Jennifer Borger

    Awesome, Zac! We are proud of your hard work and are praying for these last 3 weeks!!

    May 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  46. Craig Sumpter

    Nice piece!

    May 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  47. Heidi Ann Berg

    I think that's neat there friends .They should do some thing adventures together.I hope Zac wins ,He started first and if the other has a faster boat it's not really a fare race

    May 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  48. M.W. Johnson

    ~This is so cool...go Zac!

    May 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  49. Joseph Thomas

    What a wonderful story. Hope he returned home safely.

    May 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  50. Dulce

    Awesome journey!

    May 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm |