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US teen joins race for youngest round-the-world sailor

Washington, Jan 25 (DPA) A 16-year-old American girl has embarked on a quest to become the youngest person to sail around the world, adding some competition to an effort already underway by an Australian girl.

Abby Sunderland departed from Marina del Rey in California Saturday in her 12-metre long boat Wild Eyes. She hopes the trip will take between five and six months. While underway she will subsist on dried food, communicate via satellite phone and maintain a blog at www.abbysunderland.com.

Family and friends waved goodbye as she departed.

Jessica Watson, a slightly older Australian, embarked on her round-the-world effort on Oct 18. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that she was fighting her way through heavy storms.

If either makes it, they will beat current recordholder Mike Perham, a Briton who completed his sailing trip around the world last summer. Perham in turn unseated Zac Sunderland – Abby’s brother.

But whereas Zac’s route included frequent stops and was along a route with calmer weather, Abby has opted for a faster route with more dangerous weather. But there is less ship traffic along her route and a lower danger of encountering pirates.

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