A 17-year-old boy became the youngest person to sail solo around the world with assistance Thursday when his 50-foot racing yacht cruised back into U.K. waters after a nine-month voyage.
Mike Perham crossed the finishing line between Lizard Point and Ushant, France, in his boat Totallymoney.com at 9:47 a.m., escorted by the Royal Navy guard ship HMS Mersey.
“I’ve made it, I’ve made my dream come true and it feels amazing," he exulted.
He is due to sail into a hero's welcome at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth on Saturday, having spent 158 days at sea.
The teenager, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, has battled with 50-foot waves, gale force winds and numerous technical difficulties since he set off from Portsmouth last November on his 30,000-mile challenge.
His voyage has taken him via Portugal, the Canaries, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He also sailed through the Panama Canal after he missed the weather window to sail around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.
He celebrated his 17th birthday in the South Indian Ocean on March 16.
Mike said that his epic voyage had been an "incredible" experience. "[I'd think] 'I'm here now and I'm at one with nature, and it's just me, thousands of miles from anywhere and any form of help,'" he said.
During the voyage Mike had to eat almost constantly in order to take in the 5,000 calories a day required for the physical demands of sailing. He cooked up large quantities of pasta and rice in the yacht’s small galley. Two-thirds of his calories came from specially made freeze-dried food, and the rest from tinned food.
He was able to catch only small amounts of sleep, in bursts of 20 minutes to an hour. While he slept, the boat was managed by an electronic auto-pilot and guided by radar.
In fine weather he was able to shower with warm water from the boat’s solar panels, but when it was colder he relied on moist towelettes.
He had originally set off aiming to complete the challenge non-stop, but technical difficulties forced several stops, meaning his world record will be the youngest solo circumnavigation with assistance.
The previous youngest to complete a similar voyage was Zac Sunderland, an American, who was two months older than Mike when he completed his voyage last month.
This is not the first world record set by Mike. In January 2007 he became the youngest person to sail solo across the Atlantic at the age of 14.