Abby Sunderland's Dad: I'd Let Her Do It Again

16-year-old California teen Abby Sunderland is seeking to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. CBS

His daughter safe and sound on a French fishing vessel that rescued her in the Indian Ocean, Laurence Sunderland says he'd not only let her try again to sail around the world solo - he'd "absolutely endorse that wholeheartedly."

Abby Sunderland, 16, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was trying to become the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe alone when she ran into trouble in heavy seas Thursday. Her mast collapsed, crippling her boat and her ability to communicate via satellite, so she set off a distress signal.

Abby was saved Saturday by the French vessel some 2,000 miles from the western Australian coast.

Her brother, Zac Sunderland, held the record Abby was seeking for a little more than a month last year until Mike Perham, of Great Britain, captured it with a journey of his own. Then last month, the mark moved again when Australian Jessica Watson, 16, wrapped up her own 'round-the-world adventure.

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Abby's mother, Marianne Sunderland, said she'd spoken with her daughter and Abby "sounded just hike herself. She had a little bit of small voice, a little shake in her voice, but she's safe on board and it was a brief conversation, but she sounded good. She was in good spirits, for sure."

Zac Sunderland told co-anchor Erica Hill, "The phone call (with word of his sister's rescue) was such a relief, great news to hear she was safe and sound."

Laurence Sunderland told Hill, "We'd been waiting anxiously all through the night. We were just ecstatic and very, very much relieved."

And, asked about criticism he's been getting for letting someone so young try such an endeavor, Laurence was quick to say, "I don't think the age should be a criterion in this. It should be the experience of the person and their level of expertise to undertake this.

"Isabella (Autissier, a renowned French solo sailor) was rescued in a similar area to this (in 1999). She was 30, 35. She's ranked as one of the world's best female sailors. Should we say Isabella shouldn't go out on the ocean because she met an unfortunate wave that broke her keel? I don't think so.

"Abigail is a very competent sailor. She's proven herself over and over again through this trip. This wasn't the first time she had adverse conditions. She'd experienced over 50 knots of wind off the Falklands, rounding Cape Horn and rounding Cape Good Hope. She's been through trials and tribulations on the ocean and has overcome them.

"This was one that was unfortunate that took the mast of the vessel. And that's got nothing to do with her sailing ability. It was an unfortunate thing that happened.

"And I just want to thank the guys that were out there with the rescue attempt. If she wants to go back on the ocean, which I'm sure she will some day, I will absolutely endorse that wholeheartedly."
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