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Monday, November 17, 2008

Young sailor starts world voyage

Michael Perham
Michael Perham, 16, setting out from Portsmouth to sail around the world

A teenage student attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world has admitted he is "a little crazy" to do it at his age.

Michael Perham, 16, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire is the youngest person to have sailed across the Atlantic alone.

He set out on his latest voyage from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, on his Open 50 Racing Yacht on Saturday morning.

He will be alone at sea for over four months and his only contact with family will be through satellite link-ups.

Michael said: "I'm a little bit nervous but otherwise really, really excited.

"It's just the feeling of being completely in control, relaxed and at one with nature. It's just fantastic. But you don't look forward to the fact you are alone for about four months."

A look around Mike Perham's boat

Psychologists have helped prepare him mentally for the challenges ahead and he said his experience crossing the Atlantic would also stand him in good stead.

His mother, Heather, said the family was right behind him: "We're all really excited, we're so proud of what he's going to be doing.

"He's just such an inspiration for other young people - for anyone really - we're just amazed we've got to this point."

His family have also put a pile of gifts and decorations on board his yacht for Christmas.

By then he is expected to be in the South Atlantic, near the Cape of Good Hope off the coast of South Africa.

His parents, Heather, 51, and Peter, 49, and 18-year-old sister Fiona all support him.

Mr Perham, a chartered quantity surveyor and experienced sailor, introduced his son to sailing at the age of seven.

"As a parent there is always anxiety, even he has anxiety.

"But whether he is 16, 26 or 36, as a parent you are always concerned for your children," said Mr Perham.

I couldn't have done what he is doing at his age
Peter Perham, Michael's father

"But it will be an amazing achievement. I take my hat off to him completely. I couldn't have done what he is doing at his age.

"Hopefully he will inspire other young people."

He is expected to arrive back in Portsmouth some time near his 17th birthday on 16 March 2009.

The current holder of the youngest non-stop circumnavigator title is 18-year-old Australian, Jesse Martin, who arrived home in Melbourne on October 31, 1999.

To set a new record, Michael's journey must be entirely unassisted and completed under sail by wind and muscle power alone.

His journey will pass the coast of Africa, cross the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Australia and Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

His adventure does not get him out of school work either.

He is taking assignments with him as part of his BTEC National Diploma in Sport (Performance and Excellence) at Oaklands College in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Money raised from the epic voyage will be donated to Save the Children and the Tall Ships Youth Trust.