The land crew for 16-year-old Zac Sunderland, who left Marina del Rey on June 14th in an attempt to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world, will hold a fundraiser to help finance the compelling, yet expensive and long journey around the Planet Earth. The event is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 26th, at The Organic Panificio Waterfront Restaurant, 4211 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey,

The “Zac Pack,” as they’re known, are reluctant to call the event a fundraiser, opting for a “celebration presentation of Zac’s trip and a fundraiser.” And this understated semantic shift reflects the quiet, subtle pride and attitude of the Sunderland family and the many with them who have taken up Zac’s cause.

The steadfast, taciturn young mariner has now logged over 9,700 miles of the planned 23,883-mile voyage with his trademark stoic determination. He has been challenged by the complicated navigational hazards of the Torres Strait, a pirate scare off the coast of Indonesia, perpetual engine and mechanical problems and most recently, a broken boom in the Indian Ocean.

Through it all, Sunderland makes the necessary adjustments and powers through.

“My biggest fear so far has been the fear of falling asleep and not waking up for an alarm,” said Sunderland in an excerpt from his daily blog. “[The] second biggest fear was navigating alone through reefs.”

Today Zac is having some rare moments of relaxation on Cocos Keeling Island, about 2,000 miles due west of Darwin, Australia, where he is enjoying the idyllic setting the island offers.

In the meantime a local woodworker there is fashioning a new boom that will help take Zac farther along in his passage.

He is ten pounds lighter than when he left Marina del Rey, but no less resolute. Now, with nearly 10,000 miles under his belt in just over four months, Sunderland, in his 36-foot Islander Intrepid, has passed the crash course “Interminable Loneliness 101” and will soon cast off for the shores of Africa.

“I was pretty happy to realize that I am okay being alone for long periods of time,” said Sunderland, addressing the many questions regarding solitude, “although after about two weeks I start to get pretty bored and restless.”

Zac will soon leave civilization and return to this familiar solitude, as cyclone season is upon him and he needs to press on to avoid any potential disasters.

On the home front, the Sunderlands confront their own dilemmas. While Zac looks to avoid detrimental weather and steer a course of safety alone in his boat, his parents are navigating through their own maze of arduous reefs trying to ensure that this dream comes true from a practical and logistical standpoint.

“I’m really quite worried about the whole financial side of things,” said Zac’s father, Laurence Sunderland. “And I’m not sure I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The family hoped that a major financial sponsor would have come into the fray by now and that a company or benefactor of some kind will recognize the advertising benefit of supporting this high profile journey.

While smaller companies like Clearpoint Weather Service have generously provided routing information and equipment, and UK Sails has furnished sails at a substantial discount, the Sunderlands are still hoping for a larger company to get involved as Zac gets closer to making history.

Until then, they will stage events like the upcoming fundraiser and try to keep the ball rolling in any way they can.

Space is limited at the fundraiser and reservations are required. The event is $20 prepaid, or $27 at the door. To prepay reservations, go to www.zacsun derland.com/, click on “Store” and follow the prompts. For additional reservations or information, contact Marilyn at mgsim cox@yahoo.com/ or (818) 703-1154.

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