Stricken teenage US sailor rescued

Updated: 2010-06-13 10:23
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SYDNEY – Teenage US sailor Abby Sunderland was rescued safely from her stricken yacht Wild Eyes in the remote southern Indian Ocean on Saturday.

Stricken teenage US sailor rescued
Abby Sunderland is seen on her boat in this undated handout released June 10, 2010. [Agencies] 

A boat launched from the French fishing vessel Ile de la Reunion reached Sunderland at about 7:45 p.m. eastern Australian time (5:45 a.m. EDT/0945 GMT), the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. Australian authorities provided air support, it said.

Sunderland, 16, said she was "safe and sound" in comments on her official blog on Saturday, which she wrote aboard the fishing vessel.

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"I can't write much now as I am typing on a French key pad as well as trying to stay seated in a bouncy fishing boat," Sunderland wrote.

"The long and the short of it is, well, one long wave, and one short mast (short meaning two inch stub)," she wrote, promising to provide more details later.

"Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best," she said.

Sunderland left the United States in January on a widely criticized attempt to circumnavigate the world. Her yacht ran into trouble Thursday as it was pounded by huge waves midway between Africa and Australia.

Her dismasted yacht was spotted Friday. Australian rescue officials sent an aircraft to the treacherous southern Indian Ocean Saturday to regain radio contact with her.

Two other ships also responded to her distress call.

It is likely she will be transferred to one of those ships, one of which is heading for the island of Reunion, a French possession in the Indian Ocean, and the other for Australia.

"She's doing extremely well ... I think she's relieved to be aboard the rescue vessel," her father, Laurence Sunderland, told NBC's "Today Show" after a brief phone conversation with his daughter.

"I asked her if she had been injured. She had been knocked about a bit but I don't think there was anything serious," her mother, Marianne Sunderland, told NBC in an interview from their home in California.

Wild Eyes was approximately 2,000 nautical milesfrom Australia's west coast when she was rescued, the Australian statement said.

Her predicament reignited a debate about the wisdom of teenage sailors attempting to sail solo around the world, weeks after Australian teenager Jessica Watson accomplished a similar feat.

Sunderland defended her age and the decision to sail this time of year through the Southern Ocean on her blog post on Saturday.

"It wasn't the time of year it was just a Southern Ocean storm. Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world," she wrote.

"As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?"

The search for Sunderland involved Australian, US and French rescue authorities sending ships and a commercial airliner.