Teen eyes solo circumnavigation

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The youngest person to solo-sail the Atlantic now has a new goal

The youngest person to solo-sail the Atlantic now has a new goal

First the Atlantic, now the world. Is there anything Michael Perham won’t do?

The son of a boatbuilder in Potters Bar, England, Perham at age 14 became the youngest person to sail solo across the Atlantic. Now at the ripe age of 15, he’s decided he wants to circumnavigate — if he can secure the funding.

Perham began his Atlantic voyage Nov. 18, 2006, in Gibraltar and sailed his Tide 28 into EnglishHarbor in Antigua Jan. 3, with short layovers in the Canary and Cape Verde islands to make repairs before continuing to the Caribbean. The young sailor was totally sponsor-dependent, with 21 individuals and companies backing the crossing. The challenge now is to find sponsors to cover the $2 million cost of sailing 26,000 miles around the world.

“We are currently looking for a title sponsor on the project that will hopefully attract other sponsors,” says Perham. “Our timeline at this point is ASAP, because we will need boats bigger than the ones we took out for the Atlantic to take on this trip.”

Perham’s Tide 28, Cheeky Monkey, was built by his father, Peter Perham, who followed his son across the Atlantic in an identical boat and plans to do the same for the circumnavigation. “It ended up that we had two boats on our hands, because my father was halfway through building the second model when the man he was making it for ran out of money, so he decided to finish it,” says Perham. “It was great sailing along with him. He introduced me to sailing when I was 7 years old, and I liked it so much I wanted to continue. It’s good fun 90 percent of the time and quite adventurous.”

Perham says he had thought about crossing the Atlantic for several years, and last year everything fell into place. “It was a great experience and not something everyone gets a chance to do,” he says. “When you are on your own and away from others you do miss them, and no one can help you directly whatsoever, so you take the view that you get on with it and not dwell on it.”

While his mother, Heather Perham, hoped her son would be able to keep up with his studies while on the boat, Perham had a lot of catching up to do when he completed his voyage. “He started school the very next day, and he was so keen to meet up with his friends and get back into a routine. He really missed that,” she says. “But he did a lot of catch-up when he came back.”

Perham says his friends think his accomplishment is “cool” and hope he can jumpstart his next project. “The experience was pretty overwhelming, and I didn’t expect the reception I got when the trip was over,” says Perham. “I would like to leave by next October, but nothing is set in stone yet.”

Heather says his family supports his dream and hopes he can fulfill his it. “We are so proud of him and just so amazed that he managed [to cross the Atlantic],” says Heather Perham. “The headmaster of his school has been very supportive of him gaining life skills this way, such as learning how to talk to people and the media. Oftentimes students get stuck in this little bubble called school, and this gives him another view of the world.”

For more on Perham and his plans, visit www.sailmike.com .