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Teen Circumnavigator Set for Final Leg

Seen here in Durban, South Africa, Zac has had a remarkable journey. He now has only 3,000 miles to the finish line.

© Laurence Sunderland

When a Southern California 16-year-old named Zac Sunderland set out from Marina del Rey last June, determined to singlehand around the world, many doubted he would make it. But we’re happy to report he recently transitted the Panama Canal, and is about to begin the final leg to the finish line.

Now 17, Zac has had to deal with a long list of problems along his route, but his refurbished Islander 36 Intrepid is still goin’ strong, and throughout the year-long journey Zac has shown remarkable maturity and stamina. Assuming he crosses his track this summer, he will become the youngest sailor to have circumnavigated the globe (with stopovers). His track loosely followed Robin Lee Graham’s famous cruise in the mid-’60s.

Unfortunately, the final leg will probably be a tough one, as both wind and current will be against him if he elects to sail north near the coast. And if he elects to follow the much longer offshore route — in order to pick up more favorable winds — he may have to dodge storm systems as the June-to-November Mexican hurricane season is about to begin. That said, most storms typically occur between August and October, by which time we hope Zac will be joyfully decompressing from his epic voyage. Stay tuned for additional updates here, and/or see Zac’s blog for daily reports. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for him, and we hope you will too.

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There were more boats out sailing the Bay last weekend than we’ve seen in a long time.