Teen Sailor Gets Dissed by the Associated Press

A now 17-year-old boy from Thousand Oaks, California recently sailed, by himself, some 28,000 miles in one year on a 36-foot sailboat.  Zac Sunderland was 16 when he left Marina del Rey harbor in June, 2008.

The Associated Press writer was a bit snarky, I think, when writing: “But the shaggy-haired Thousand Oaks native might not hold the record of being the youngest person to sail around the world alone for long.  British sailor Mike Perham is a few months younger than Sunderland, and is sailing a bigger, faster boat.”

If I were Zac’s mother, this would have annoyed me.  I’m not his mother, but it annoys me.  Assuming she or he wants to keep a scrapbook commemorating his sailing exploits, what a snarky thing to have included.  “A few months…a bigger, faster boat.”  So what?

Here is a 16 (now 17) year old kid who, instead of partying, abusing drugs, alcohol or hanging out with silly girls, instead of spending hours on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or whatever, instead of hanging in his room sullen, instead of causing trouble at school, instead of driving too fast in the car he shouldn’t have been given in the first place, instead of a lot of typical teenage boy activities, took on a challenge that was to test his ability to discipline himself, live austerely, deal with unpredictable weather and seas, survive loneliness and fear, and fix equipment failures when warranted.

Shoving up his nose in print that someone else trying it is younger and has a better boat, shows, in my opinion, a complete ignorance of the difficulties and challenges he had to face.  It is remarkable for such a young person to brave all the elements of wind and sea to take an incredible journey on his own.  I am sure he now has a healthy respect for nature, life and himself.  I am sure he won’t hesitate to face many other challenges on land.  I am sure he won’t be abusing himself or substances to get a “rush.”  I am sure he’s a fine young man who should be an inspiration to other teens.  You are never too young to have a dream and go for it.

I’m sure his mom is very proud.  She should be!