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August 28, 2009

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Teen sets record as youngest solo sailor

A 17-YEAR-OLD Briton became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handed when he returned to British waters yesterday.

Mike Perham spent nine months sailing around the world, battling 15-meter waves, suffering knockdowns and damage to his yacht during the 38,624-kilometer trip.

The youngster from Hertfordshire said he was looking forward to a "good meal and a very good night's sleep" after the adventure.

Fewer than 250 people have sailed solo around the globe, but his record is already in jeopardy, if a 13-year-old Dutch girl can persuade a court to allow her to set sail.

Perham crossed the start line between Ushant, northern France, and Lizard Point, southern England, on November 18 as a 16-year-old and celebrated his 17th birthday in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Early on he suffered technical problems with his Open 50 sailing yacht,, and was forced to seek repairs at various ports, including in Portugal, Gran Canaria, Cape Town, Tasmania and Auckland.

Because of that, Guinness World Records categorized his record as "assisted."

He said having to tackle problems with his autopilot and rudder were low moments.

"The low points are when things go wrong unexpectedly and it is down to you to fix it, because that's not getting you nearer to home, that's only getting you further away," he told BBC television by phone.

He also had to deal with his genoa sail ripping from top to bottom, and swimming under the boat's hull to cut free a spinnaker sheet jammed between the skeg and rudder.

Perham said he never doubted he would complete the trip, but he did have moments when he questioned what he was doing.

"But you push on and you handle it," he told the BBC.

"I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for in terms of being on my own, but it's definitely the hardest bit of the trip being on your own."


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