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Fishing boat expected to rescue Abby Sunderland early Saturday

The Wild Eyes, on which she hoped to sail around the world, is so badly damaged that it may be sunk, a spokesman says.

June 12, 2010|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

A French fishing boat was plowing through the southern Indian Ocean late Friday to rescue 16-year-old Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks from her storm-damaged boat in what will probably be the end of her attempt to sail around the world alone.

A spokesman for Abby said he expected the rescuers from the French island of La Reunion to reach her yacht early Saturday, California time, and that plans are still unsettled about where the boat would head next as part of the young sailor's journey home.

"We don't know where they are going to take her," said Jeff Casher, the spokesman. Abby might have to remain on the fishing boat at least several days, he said, adding that she probably would like to go to Australia, about 2,000 miles away.

A search plane launched from Australia's west coast made radio contact with her Friday morning. Her boat's mast was broken — ruining satellite phone reception — and was dragging with the sail in the ocean, said search coordinator Mick Kinley, acting chief of the Australia Maritime Safety Authority. She was said to be in good health.

Abby's boat, Wild Eyes, is so badly damaged that it will probably have to be sunk to avoid being a danger to other ships, Casher said. "My assumption is that she has to abandon it," he said.

A lifelong sailor, Abby began her journey from Marina del Rey on Jan. 23, trying to be the youngest person to sail solo nonstop around the world — a record briefly held last year by her brother Zac. Her hopes for a nonstop trip were dashed when she had to stop for repairs before continuing her voyage.

larry.gordon@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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