A stiff challenge to youngest circumnavigator title

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Michael Perham, the 16-year-old British teen poised to challenge Zac Sunderland for the title of youngest circumnavigator, left Portsmouth,England, at 11:10 a.m. Saturday, according to Sail-World.com.

Perham will be sailing alone and unassisted for 21,600 nautical miles on Totallymoney, an Open 50 raceboat chartered by his father, Peter, and the voyage is being backed by financial services broker TotallyMoney.com. Perham is 108 days younger than Sunderland, and plans to complete the voyage by March, according to the report. This ups the ante for the young California sailor Sunderland, who planned to finish in 2010, and also puts him in a difficult spot — if he does arrive first, his title could be short-lived. If Perham arrives first,Sunderland will never achieve his goal.

“I have dreamt about doing the world trip and now I can’t wait to live that dream,” says Perham in the report. “I’m a little bit nervous, but otherwise really, really excited.”

Perham is no stranger to sailing on the ocean. Already under his belt is the title of being the youngest person at 14 to sail the Atlantic solo. He has been sailing since he was seven years old, according to the report. Perham says the hardest part of the trip will be the limited contact he will have with his family via satellite, but he’ll have plenty to keep him busy. In addition to rounding the world at a blistering speed, he’ll be doing coursework for a sports diploma he’s undertaking at OaklandsCollegeAthleticsAcademy in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

His only regrets for the voyage? Missing Christmas.

“I won’t even be able to stop off and get a tree,” says Perham in the report.

All money raised from Perham’s trip will be donated to Save the Children and Tall Ships Youth Trust. For information, visit www.totallymoney.com/sailmike

— Elizabeth Ellis