British teenager Mike Perham aims for round-the-world sailing record

The teenager from Potters Bar is on course to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo. He must first clear the Panama Canal and then sail through the Caribbean and home across the Atlantic.

“I’m very chuffed that the next time I step on land, I’ll be home,” Mike said as he completed repairs to his rigging before heading into the Canal. While he was awaiting the delivery of a new part in Panama, an American teenager temporarily claimed the record as the youngest single-handed circumnavigator. Zac Sunderland steered his sailboat back into his home port of Marina del Rey, California, on Thursday 15 July , aged 17 years, seven months and 17 days.

┬áBut Mike is more than three months younger than his fellow “yachtboy”.

And as he expects to complete the last 5,000 miles of his 30,000 mile journey in 25 days, he will then take the crown of youngest round-the-world solo sailor in mid-August.

The two youngsters met in Cape Town as they crossed the globe in different directions and Mike insists they are not rivals.

The hairiest moment for Mike, who has learned to get by on 40-muinute catnaps, came as his Open 50 racing yacht was battered by storms in the southern Indian Ocean. One towering wave would crash at the stern as the next one was hitting the bow of, named after his main sponsor, a company that provides online financial comparisons.

“We we were picked up by what felt like a 60-ft wave and planted down on our side at 90 degrees,” he said.

“I was inside the cabin, wedged in behind the table but at one point I had my feet jammed on the ceiling and it felt like we were going right over. Stuff was flying around and I just thought ‘Oh crikey’.”

He will celebrate his homecoming next month with his traditional first post-trip meal of steak and chips. And after circumnavigating the globe, he has a more mundane rite of teenage passage in his sights – learning to drive.

But he may not hold his world record for long – a 16-year-old Australian girl is due to set off on the same mission in September. That does not worry Mike. “I’ve got some exciting plans in mind,” he said “I’ll be announcing something soon after I get back.”