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Rescued round-the-world US teen vows to do it again

A US teenager who was plucked from her stricken yacht in the Indian Ocean after an international rescue mission, has vowed to try to sail around the world again.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2010 11:08 IST

A US teenager who was plucked from her stricken yacht in the Indian Ocean after an international rescue mission, has vowed to try to sail around the world again.

A multi-national effort was mobilised to save sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland whose 40-foot (12 metre) yacht "Wild Eyes" was dismasted during a fierce storm on Thursday.

French and Australian officials scrambled to rescue the teenage solo sailor and she was taken onboard a French fishing boat on Saturday after two nights drifting helpless.

"I'm definitely going to sail around the world again or really give it another try," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Saturday.

"I've wanted to sail around the world for years and am definitely going to do it sometime."

The California-based teenager, who is now en route to the French island of Reunion, said she was still in shock over the incident - in which she battled heavy seas all day, enduring repeated knock-downs until the mast was snapped.

She said she wasn't particularly scared or lonely during her ordeal, but admitted she was fortunate she could be rescued as soon as she was.

"I'm really lucky that there was a boat to come and get me where I was," she said.

Writing on her blog on Saturday, Sunderland rejected criticism that she was too young to attempt to sail solo around the world or had misjudged her ability to sail through the southern hemisphere winter.

"There are plenty of things people can think of to blame for my situation; my age, the time of year and many more," she wrote on soloaround.blogspot.com.

"The truth is, I was in a storm and you don't sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm.
"It wasn't the time of year it was just a Southern Ocean storm. Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world.

"As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?"

Sunderland, whose parents had supported her round-the-world attempt, is expected to reach Reunion by late Monday, depending on the weather.

Her compact sailboat, which was equipped with a small bunk bed, a water-maker and a store of freeze-dried food, was abandoned and her parents have said it is unlikely to be retrieved.

However, fund-raising on Sunderland's website to bring the boat back with the teenager have so far drawn pledges of more than 2,400 US dollars.

In Australia, whose planes first spotted Sunderland's stricken yacht about 2,000 nautical miles off the West Australian coast on Friday and revealed the teenager was alive, questions have been raised about the cost of the rescue.

But the government said it would not attempt to recover the cost.

"The Australian taxpayer at the end of the day makes a contribution," Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said.

"But we have to put this in context - if there was an Australian lost at sea we would want... every effort to be made to save that person."

The teen's rescue comes just a month after Australia's Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail round the world non-stop, solo and unassisted, aged 16. Sunderland's brother Zac completed his own round-the-world solo sail last year aged 17, as did Britain's Mike Perham - who is now dating Watson.

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