After her sailboat was damaged by a rogue wave, and lost in the Indian Ocean, teen sailor Abby Sunderland has been rescued by French fisherman. Search aircraft from Australia located the teenage girl yesterday roughly halfway between Australia and the tip of South Africa. The 16 year old’s attempt to sail around the world, non-stop, solo has now come to an abrupt end, but a happy ending. The French fishing trawler, Ile De La Reunion, aptly named, found Abby Sunderland’s sailboat, Wild Eyes, about 2,300 west of Australia’s west coast.

The international rescue effort began two days ago when Sunderland’s boat was damaged by the rough seas in an area often called by sailors as the “Roaring 40s”. Winds of up to 60 knots and seas of 25 foot swells are common in this region. Her boat sustained heavy damage, including the loss of her mast, keel and her boat was capsized, thus ending her attempt to circumnavigate the world alone. Abby activated her emergency radio beacons.

A coordinated effort to locate Sunderland begun. A Qantas Airways Airbus A330-300 flew from Perth to search for her. The plane carried a team of rescue experts and trained spotters. Nearly at the plane’s ‘bingo point’, when it would be forced to return due to fuel, they sighted the upside-down hull of Abby’s boat drifting in the rough seas. Abby, herself, was prepared for such an emergency, since her older brother Zac had himself become the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the world solo in a sailboat. The aircraft was able to make radio contact with Abby, confirming that she was alive and safe in a special emergency ‘cocoon’.

Three vessels were nearby Abby. The French fisherman were the closest and rescued her at approximated 7:45pm eastern Australian time. However, as they are a commercial fishing boat and not scheduled to go to Australia, Abby will most likely be transferred to one of the other two ships, which will then take her to Perth or Melbourne. The family of Abby Sunderland were notified in Thousand Oaks, California, of her rescue. The teen sailor’s attempt to sail non-stop around the world actually ended earlier when her 40-foot sailboat was forced to stop in Cape Town, South Africa, to make repairs.