Sunderland is youngest to sail alone

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- A shaggy-haired 17-year-old from Southern California has become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Zac Sunderland docked Thursday in this coastal community west of Los Angeles, completing a 28,000-mile trip that began last year. His family, friends and hundreds of curious onlookers cheered as his 36-foot Intrepid boat entered the harbor.

He later gave a whoop of joy as he approached a microphone to address the crowd.

"It's awesome to finally get back here," he said.

Sunderland was 16 when he left Marina del Rey on June 14, 2008 -- a voyage that included encounters with pirates and wild storms. His father is a shipwright who has met him at various stops around the world, often to help him repair damage to the boat.

On Sunderland's Web site, a series of videos document his travels.

In one video, Sunderland tells the camera he's about to sail into a "massive squall," adding, "I need to just put away all the sails right now, so I gotta go."

Sunderland's record may not last for long. British sailor Mike Perham is a few months younger than Sunderland and is sailing a bigger, faster boat in an attempt for the record.

The record was previously held by an Australian who was over 18 when he completed the voyage in 1996.