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Teen sailor's abandoned yacht found floating eight years later

By Daniel Uria
Teen sailor's abandoned yacht found floating eight years later
Wild Eyes, the yacht abandoned by Abby Sunderland in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2010, was found floating off the coast of Australia eight years later. Photo courtesy SA Police News/Facebook

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A yacht former teenage sailor Abby Sunderland attempted to sail around the globe has been found floating upside down off the coast of South Australia eight years later.

South Australian police shared photos of the vessel known as Wild Eyes, which was located from the air by a tuna spotting plane about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island in Australia on Monday.

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"The boat was subsequently identified as the 'Wild Eyes,' which had been abandoned eight years ago in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a round the world voyage," police said.

Wild Eyes was missing since it was abandoned at sea by a 16-year-old Sunderland when she was rescued by the crew of a French fishing ship. Her yacht became disabled after her mast was knocked down in a patch of rough weather midway through her world-record attempt to be the youngest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe in 2010.

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"My heart skipped a beat," Sunderland, now 25, said, according to The Guardian. "It brought back many memories -- good and not so good -- but it was neat to see it after so long. It looked a little creepy but that's to be expected after so long."

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Shortly after her circumnavigation attempt was cut short, Sunderland wrote in a 2010 blog post that the vessel was still afloat when she boarded the French ship and that she hoped it would be found.

"She would have to be very lucky to wash up on a beach, and not get smashed on the rocks or something like that. While I do wish that she would be found and fixed up, it's not all that likely she will be found," Sunderland said.

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Now that Wild Eyes has been located, Sunderland questioned whether any of the video equipment she used to record the journey had survived. She closed the hatch of the racing yacht before leaving it behind, but didn't expect the vessel to be recovered.

"It would be great to try and retrieve the boat but given the costs I don't think that will happen," she said. "I always knew the boat was high quality and very safe so it doesn't really surprise me that it's still floating."

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