Politics & Media
Jun 15, 2010, 08:47AM

Why Abby Sunderland is better than you'll ever be

You fat, suburban fucks.

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By now, you’ve read all of the news bits about Abby Sunderland and her one-girl journey around the world on a boat manned only by herself and whatever it takes to blog while you’re in the middle of an ocean. She became lost somewhere around Madagascar for a day or so, emergency beacons went off, people got scared, and then she was found alive and well and afloat. These things happen.

What’s disturbed me the most about this story is not that a 16-year-old girl would be permitted to take such an adventurous, perilous journey on her own, because adventure is something which I completely stand behind, even if I can't afford a boat of my own on a pathetic librarian's salary. What I'm alarmed by is the reaction to this event from the public. Using the ever present Internet thermometer of Digg, a few popular opinions have been made very apparent: her parents are idiots, Abby is spoiled, and of paramount importance, it was a colossal waste of resources to hunt down a single boat in the middle of an ocean, even if it has a 16-year-old girl on it.

Obviously, I don’t agree with any of these statements. Here’s the thing, Internet: you can sit on your ever-widening ass watching reruns of Lost and Real Bitches of Wherever-The-Fuck, and when you finally get bored of watching things happen on TV, you can kill yourselves, or you can go out and try to do something new. There’s nothing more infuriating than listening to criticisms aimed at people who have tried interesting things and failed—especially when these attacks are delivered by people with ridiculously limited initiative themselves. Since when did stepping outside of expectations become such a ridicule-inducing offense? And when did having a level 80 World of Warcraft character equate to a workable, real-world skill? I don't see you out there hunting warthogs.

If there’s a singular statement that sums up the entirety of human mediocrity and why we’re on a fast path to self destruction, it is this:

“They must have had a lot of time on their hands.”

Scan the Internet for anything that describes something really complex, inventive or innovative, and you’ll find a similar statement in the associated comments section.

Most of us do not create out of boredom, or because we’re a creepy race of beings who lives among you extracting 37 hours from any given day. We create because of initiative, and we forge time in our already busy lives and around other powerful ideas to create beautiful feats of ingenuity or aesthetics. You see a 12-foot tall statue made out of toothpicks and a bored guy, and I see a man with intense focus and dedication who probably has more to say than you’ll ever know. When inventiveness is turned into a crime, we have nothing left.

Abby Sunderland has more balls than me, than you, and than a majority of our population. So, when you say something like this:

“I sincerely hope the parents will have to pay for ANY and ALL rescue attempts for this stunt. You know, coming to the rescue of a ship or airliner with passengers aboard that was performing a public function is one thing, but having to rescue idiots intentionally tempting fate (such as this), is simply not responsible.”

I can't help but feel a little sick. Life is expensive. Testing the human spirit and our boundaries as a potentially doomed race of creatures is expensive, but nothing that is ever done, erroneously or intentionally, is a waste—provided that you understand it, and take the time to build from it. We're not talking about a Balloon Boy stunt here, done in the interest of arrogant fame-seeking, so to treat it the same way is ridiculous. While Abby Sunderland might not be teaching gerbils to use an abacus in space, there's something powerful in the fact that even one person is willing to shut herself off from the angry world that we've created to visit places that most of us will never see.

When we understand why, I think there might be hope for us yet.

  • I agree with the story, but where does the "fat suburban fucks" come in? Can't a lazy person who simply criticizes others also be a thin, city dweller?

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  • Testing the human spirit and boundries can be a noble pursuit. However, this does not meet that level. Several people have sailed around the world solo. What Abby did was only unique because of her age. Therefore, there was no testing of boundries or human spirit (other than Abby's) As a parent, I wouldn't want my daughter attempting such a dangerous act at any age. I wouldn't stop her if she were an adult but I certainly would while she was under my care. Furthermore, this veiwpoint does not make me fat, suburban, or a fuck. Just a concerned parent. Collin, what if she was 5 y.o. and the youngest skydiver? Would you feel the same way? What if she was under the legal driving age and drove well above the speed limit? In my opinion, that too would be a poor decision. As for the expense, I hope she has insurance because she should definatly cover the costs of her own non-groundbreaking attempt.

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  • It is PRECISELY unique because of her age - I never claimed otherwise. It's right in the beginning of the article, for those of us who are literate. Just because a few people have done this before, it does not mean that this is any less important. Everyone who climbs Mt. Everest is testing the human spirit. If you don't value a task simply because someone has done it before, you're just part of the problem. Every test does not have to be a pioneering effort for it to be valuable - it just has to be attempted at all. We're not talking about 'what if she was a ZYGOTE?' questions here. We're talking about what actually happened. And for the record, 'fat, suburban fucks' was an editorial decision, but I stand by it. Your sad, stifled kids can live a happy life of mediocrity. They'll fit right in at the reunions. - C David

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  • And since it was my editorial decision, I especially stand by it... you sad, internet-trolling fucks. ;)

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  • We are not worthy, your eminence.

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  • 1. Why attack my kids? There really is no call for that. 2. Why so angry? Did your parents prevent you from sailing around the world by yourself? 3. You are not a parent are you? Most parents understand that their main role as parent is to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment. The goal being to raise a healthy and happy child. This certainly does not equate to stifling them. I'm all for supporting my girls in pushing their boundries. I'd just prefer they push their mental limits and not put themselves in unnecessary physical jeopardy. 4. I suggest you challenge the human spirit and try to relax. You may just enjoy it.

  • I don't understand why the people who are criticizing this adventure are characterized as "people with ridiculously limited initiative." A lot of the criticism of the Sunderlands is coming from people with years of sailing experience; people who have crossed oceans; People with the wherewithal to understand how badly conceived this adventure was. Abby's age isn't the point so much as her lack of experience and knowledge and the foolhardy decision to have her cross the Southern Ocean during the worst possible season. I don't know if I have more balls that the author of this article, but I've never played World of Warcraft -- I spend my weekends sailing. You want to see people with balls? The Singlehanded Transpac starts in San Francisco on June 19. They're not doing it for publicity (there is none). They're doing it for the joy of sailing and the spirit of adventure. These are real sailors -- not some ill prepared teen who daddy was controlling from afar.

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  • I commend Sunderland for her will to succeed and her determination. fuck the haters, what she did was badass as fuck. we need more girls like this. the public just doesn't understand.

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  • Dear Texan : I have, in fact, raised a child. Unfortunately, her biological parents have been absentees for much of her life. I still stand by my disgust.

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  • Right then, to get this out of the way: no, I have not sailed around the world, nor have I tried to. I have, however, crossed an ocean, and done many thousands more offshore miles since. I have not got a problem with a 16yo girl trying to sail around the world. I don't even have a problem with Abby doing it. I have a problem with someone that young being blatantly pushed by her Godsquadding Dad out into the Southern Ocean with minimal singlehanded experience, in winter, purely to satisfy his own twisted need to gain his 15 minutes of fame. Mr. Sutherland: you might think the big guy in the sky can save your daughter; he can't. Out there, you're all on your own, and Abby should have been able to cope with being dismasted without pressing the panic button. Fact. If any of you want to see what she should have done, check out Alassandro di Benedetto. Larry's antics are making the wider sailing community look bad. That's what we resent.

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  • Where is there some kind of proof that this was part of the machinations of her father?

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  • http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/news/473629/abby-s-father-admits-plan-to-cash-in http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showtopic=102689&view=findpost&p=2888855 The notion that they could take delivery of the boat on the east coat on December 6 and that it would be sufficiently prepared for a nonstop around the world voyage (incl. southern ocean - not panama canal) in time for her to leave California on January 22 is absolutely ridiculous. It takes an ENORMOUS amount of work to prepare a boat (and a sailor for a trip like that). One month? Absolutely irresponsible. Only one thing was driving this -- money.

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  • http://forums.iboats.com/showpost.php?s=dd20c8b62a26b93ba034792711ff973e&p=2726099&postcount=36

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