Sunderland hoped to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Some say because she came from a sailing family, she's not too young to take on such a demanding voyage.
When Abby Sunderland set off on her journey in January people were perplexed. Now that she's disabled at sea many are outraged. Add Fresno State Psychology Professor Paul Price to the list. Price said, "What a dumb decision that was, right? It seems almost crazy."
The failed record try had Professor Price thinking about his own 15-year old son. He explained, "It's hard for me to imagine letting him drive around, let alone sail around the world."
But Price says the situation comes down to a parental perception of risk. Abby's father says she was qualified and capable of a round-the-world trip. Her brother did it at seventeen. Laurence Sunderland said, "Let's face it life is dangerous. How many teenagers die in car accidents? Should we stop every teenager from driving a car? With the logic that these people are using it doesn't make any sense."
87-year old Lewis Wagoner is a lifetime member of the Fresno Yacht Club. He said pirates on the high seas would be the least of his worries. Wagoner said, "There's pirates right here in Fresno. There's home invasion robberies. You're not 100-percent safe anywhere."
Abby Sunderland is the latest young person to take a big risk to try to set a record. 13-year old Jordan Romero recently became the youngest person to reach the top of Mt. Everest.
But in 1996, seven-year old Jessica Dubroff crashed and died while trying to become the youngest pilot to fly cross-country.
Professor Price says in these cases there are two things to consider, the perceived risk and the rewards. "They could be fame. It could include money but it could also include the sense of accomplishment."
Sunderland's parents on Friday defended their decision to let her sail solo. They say they agreed to it after much training.