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Teen round-world sailor forced into repair dock again

A 17-YEAR-OLD British sailor said yesterday that he was confident of beating a United States rival into the record books as the youngest person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe despite visiting Australia for a fourth repair stop about halfway through his trouble-plagued voyage.

Mike Perham of Hertsfordshire, England, and Zac Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, California, are both 17-year-olds who for months have been sailing solo around the world.

Since Perham set sail from Portsmouth, England, on November 15 for what was to be a nonstop four-and-a-half month journey, he has been forced to dock for repairs in Lisbon, the Canary Islands and Cape Town.

He sailed his 15-meter yacht into Australia's most southerly city, Hobart, on Saturday for precautionary repairs to a rudder, battery recharger and ballast pump.

The recharger had been defective since a large wave tipped the yacht over in the Antarctic Ocean just over a week before reaching Hobart.

Perham, who celebrated his 17th birthday at sea on March 16, said yesterday he expected to set sail again tomorrow after the glue had dried on the rudder repairs.

He now expects to finish the rest of the 39,000-kilometer journey nonstop by early June.

"It's a little frustrating because I am a little behind schedule, but that's life," Perham said while ordering a hamburger in Hobart.

"It won't be plain sailing, but I've done the hardest part now," he added, referring to the mountainous Antarctic seas.

Perham expected to finish a few weeks before Sunderland returns to Marina Del Rey in Southern California in his slower 11-meter sailboat. But if not, Perham's four-month age advantage could still win him the record.

"Zac is older by a few months so when I finish, I'll be younger," Perham said.

According to Guinness World Records, the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo was 18-year-old Australian David Dicks in 1996. The record is judged on the age of the sailor when the circumnavigation is completed.


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