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Was teen’s round-the-world sail a stunt?

The father of a California teen who had to be rescued from her disabled yacht in the Indian Ocean exchanged angry accusations with a reality show producer who is promoting two shows based on the girl and her family.Laurence Sunderland said that there is no deal to produce a reality show about 16-year-old Abby Sunderland’s failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe and accused producer Ted Caloro
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The father of a California teen who had to be rescued from her disabled yacht in the Indian Ocean exchanged angry accusations with a reality show producer who is promoting two shows based on the girl and her family.

Laurence Sunderland said that there is no deal to produce a reality show about 16-year-old Abby Sunderland’s failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe and accused producer Ted Caloroso of Magnetic Entertainment of hoping Abby would die during her attempt to make for better television.

“He wanted to make it about me being an irresponsible parent and Abigail dying,” Sunderland told NBC News Monday outside his Thousand Oaks, Calif., home.

Sunderland said he did discuss the possibility of a reality show with Magnetic Entertainment in the week after his daughter embarked on her journey in February, but gave up the idea because the producers did not agree with his concept of showing “inspiring kids doing inspirational things.”

Teen was ‘pushed too soon’

Caloroso refuted Sunderland’s allegations, saying the father’s statements are prompted by a desire to deflect criticism of his decision to allow a 16-year-old girl to set out on such a dangerous adventure.

“I think he’s just trying to save face right now,” Caloroso told NBC News. “The fact that Laurence has gone and talked to news agencies and saying that we hoped for her death and it would be great for the reality show is completely ridiculous. I think Abby was pushed too soon to leave on her voyage.”

Two shows in the works?

Despite Sunderland’s denials, Caloroso’s company continued Tuesday morning to promote two shows relating to the Sunderlands and Abby on its website:

  • “Adventures in Sunderland” is a “family-oriented Adventure show, based on the Sunderland Family of Thousand Oaks, CA. We follow the family in their day-to-day lives as shipbuilder Laurence Sunderland and mother/teacher Marianne try to balance work and family.”
  • “Abby’s Journey” is billed as a documentary about Abby’s unsuccessful effort to follow her brother, Zac, in an around-the-world solo sail.

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Abby's brother Zac (left) was the first person under 18 to sail solo around the world. Dad Laurence (center) and mom Marianne have six other kids including Abby, with another one on the way.

1PfalsefalseWriting a book

Abby revealed Sunday on her blog that she’s already writing a book about her adventures.

She wrote the entry aboard the French fishing boat that plucked her off her disabled 40-foot sailboat, Wild Eyes, last week after she lost her mast in a storm along with her satellite phone. A distress beacon helped Australian rescuers to locate her boat. Abby still has several days ahead of her before she reaches land.

“I have started writing. At first I decided that I wasn’t going to write a book. But then I started to think about all the good times Wild Eyes and I have had together. All that’s left of the voyage of Wild Eyes are my memories, eventually they will get fuzzy and I won’t remember all the details. I don’t want that to happen. Wild Eyes and my trip have been the best thing I have ever done or been through and I don’t ever want to forget all the great times we have had together, or the bad ones for that matter.”

‘Since when does age create gigantic waves?’

Laurence Sunderland told The New York Post earlier this week that he’s broke. He said that he began shopping shows about his big, adventurous family and his daughter around the time she set off on Jan. 23 in an effort to become the youngest person to sail solo and nonstop around the world. A year earlier, her brother, Zac, 17, had set the record for a solo circumnavigation, only to see it taken away by other sailors.

Zac remains the first person under the age of 18 to sail solo around the world. The Magnetic Entertainment site said that his next adventure will be a motorcycle trip from the northernmost to southernmost tips of South America.