Teen sailor Abby Sunderland knows how to fail

Posted on April 25, 2010


I just read this article: Teen sailor Abby Sunderland abandons nonstop around-the-world quest, by Pete Thomas.

Wow.  That girl knows how to fail.

Abby Sunderland is a high school junior from California who decided to try to sail – SOLO – around the world.  She wants to be the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo.  She was attempting to do so WITHOUT STOPPING but got held up by the usual obstacles – rough seas around Cape Horn, freezing cold, oh, and a malfunctioning auto-pilot system which forced her to manually pilot her boat for 24 hours straight.

She’s got the skills.  She’s got the equipment.  Apparently she’s got the genes, too – her older brother sailed around the world last year, making 13 stops along the way.

Well, apparently, the malfunctioning equipment thing brought her non-stop journey to a halt.  She’s coming ashore to fix the auto-pilot system.  She plans to continue her journey after that, and she doesn’t know if she’ll have to stop again.

What an amazing feat.  Even if she did not achieve her goal of a non-stop voyage, I’m guessing she learned so much about:

  • What equipment is critical – and what is not – in achieving her quest
  • What her own strengths and weaknesses are – and how to leverage them or bolster them
  • What kind of mental strength is required to accomplish difficult tasks
  • What she can try next time she attempts a non-stop voyage

Whatever Abby’s next steps, the mere attempt – and failure, if you care to call it that – were a rousing success in my book.  Maybe I have lower standards.  What do you think?

What can you do (or what have you already done) to fail magnificently?



P.S. – If you liked this post, you may also like: Fail More, Succeed More

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