Los Angeles, CA,
Abby Sunderland was 15 years old when she announced to the world that she was going to sail around the world. Alone. Non-stop. And unassisted.
Some people laughed, others got angry, and a few cheered for the young adventurer, encouraging her to step beyond the status quo of teenagers today even offering to help wherever they could.
January 23, 2009 at 16, Abby pulled out of her home port of Marina del Rey leaving an uproar of controversy in her wake. Abby’s fans and critics alike watched her journey closely as Abby faced the challenges of life on the open ocean alone, from dead calms and extreme heat, to vicious storms and freezing cold. There were equipment failures, time and time again. To see this perfectly ordinary girl face the harshest conditions in the world and come out on top of it began to inspire even the harshest of critics. Four months into the adventure the unthinkable happened, Abby’s boat was hit by a rouge wave.
Dismasted and out of communication, Abby and her trusty vessel, Wild Eyes, were 2000 miles from any rescue center, stranded in the most remote place on earth. Through the valiant efforts of French, Australian and American Search and Rescue Centers and the longest distance rescue ever performed successfully, Abby returned home.
Back at home a whole new challenge started for Abby. The once camera-shy, quiet young girl faced rooms overflowing with cameras and media including her worst critics. Abby met them head on, standing up alone for her, her team, her parents, and for kids who dare to chase a dream or do something big with their lives.
Now Abby had a new goal. That goal was to share her story. “It's not the typical chase your dream story, look at where it landed me, stranded in the middle of nowhere. It’s better than your typical story because I am living proof that rough things happen, but that you don’t need to let them get you down. Keep dreaming, keep trying, and never give up.” Abby’s message is clear. Everyone is going to get hit by their own rouge wave in life, no matter who you are, how old you are, or what you’re doing. You can take those rouge waves and turn them into something amazing.”
Abby’s life is proof of that. Her dream was wrecked and everything she had lived for for years was taken away in a matter of seconds with her very life laid on the line.
Abby has written a book and made a documentary about her trip showing her unique upbringing - the 2nd of eight children growing up in a homeschool, traveling, outside-the-box family. She has spent the past two years since setting off around the world, traveling to schools encouraging kids to not only follow their dreams, but to work hard for the things they want out of life even when everyone around you tells you you can’t do it. She reminds her peers to never give up, even in hard times when it looks like there is no hope,to push harder and make it through and to know that those rough times will make you that much stronger in the end.
Abby took her speaking up a notch and began traveling to churches, organizations, conferences, yacht clubs, everywhere imaginable, encouraging parents to help their kids find their gifts and showing them that young people are capable of amazing things. If parents had higher standards for their children, she says, their children would have higher standards for themselves and we would see an amazing change in the world.
Challenging people to do something different and to always stretch the limits. She’s taken her inspirational story and has broadened her speaking to cover any topic, from just pure adventure and entertainment, to motivational speaking to young and old alike.