News National Kangaroo Island wreck is Sunderland’s Wild Eyes

Kangaroo Island wreck is Sunderland’s Wild Eyes

The yacht was found on New Year's Eve off Kangaroo Island. Photo: SA Police
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A vessel found off the coast of Kangaroo Island on New Year’s Eve has been identified as Wild Eyes, a yacht that was abandoned in the middle of the Indian Ocean eight years ago during a round-the-world voyage.

The vessel was spotted from the air by a tuna-spotting plane about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island at 12:30pm on Monday, December 31.

Police investigated the find, with the PolAir helicopter sent to investigate, along with two commercial fishing vessels that were operating nearby.

Police identified the boat as the Wild Eyes, which had been abandoned eight years ago in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a solo attempt to circumnavigate the world.

Teenage sailor, 16-year-old Abby Sunderland, on board her yacht. Photo:

American Abby Sunderland was attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Police said on June 10, 2010, the yacht was dismasted in rough seas halfway between the Western Australian coastline and Africa.

A rescue was then coordinated and the then-16-year-old was rescued by a French commercial fishing vessel on June 12, 2010 after spending 48 hours stranded in rough seas.

The unsuccessful voyage by Sunderland was the teenager’s second attempt to travel around the world solo.

The yacht was found overturned and covered in barnacles. Photo: SA Police

Following the unsuccessful attempt, the US teenager voiced her determination to set sail around the globe again.

“I’m definitely going to sail around the world again or really give it another try,” she said at the time.

Aussie teen takes record

But the incredible feat was successfully reached by Australian teenage sailor Jessica Watson.

The then-16-year-old from Queensland became the youngest person to sail around the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted when she completed the journey in 2010.

Doubts were cast over Watson’s achievement with claims she was more than 2,000 nautical miles short of an official record.

But just two days shy of her 17th birthday, Watson sailed her 10-metre yacht Ella’s Pink Lady up Sydney Harbour, the same spot she left from almost seven months earlier.

Jessica Watson waves and smiles as she sails home after her journey. Photo: AAP

The teen battled six-metre swells and a ripped mainsail, with the final leg of her journey taking several hours longer than predicted.

She disembarked at the Opera House, made an emotional reunion with her parents, and then met the official welcome party including then-prime minister Kevin Rudd, who at the time called Watson Australia’s newest hero.