rebelling against low expectations

Zac Sunderland Makes It Back


Yesterday morning, 17-year-old Zac Sunderland completed his historic journey — becoming the youngest person in history to sail solo around the world. Along the way Zac has taken opportunities to share his faith and challenge his generation. He even made the cover of ESPN Magazine last month with an article entitled, “Do Hard Things.” With family, friends, and supporters surrounding him at his victory press conference yesterday, Zac had this to say about why he did what he did.

As far as inspiring people, the main thing today would be that society puts younger people, like 15 through 18, in kind of a box, no one’s really expected to do much. They kind of just tend to go to high school and play football and that’s pretty much it. There’s so much more potential that people can do with the right motivation and the right ambition in life. So my thing would just be to get out there and do hard things. Go for it.

As the highest-profile rebelutionary to date, Zac can certainly use our prayers and encouragement. With that in mind, we’ve written the following letter to Zac, and wanted to share it with you at the same time in order to inform your prayers and help guide your reactions to his historic accomplishment.

Dear Zac,

Congratulations, brother! You are the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. Many eyes have been on you throughout your 13 month voyage — and especially as you steered the Intrepid into Marina del Rey yesterday morning. Thank you for being so open about your faith in Christ along the way. Thank you also for challenging your generation to “go for it” and pursue big dreams. And finally, thanks for rebelling against the low expectations our culture has toward teens. We love you, and your family. And we’re so happy to have you back safely.

As you know, this website is dedicated to challenging Christian young people to do hard things for the glory of God and the good of others. As Tim Kizziar wrote, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Don’t misunderstand, we think breaking world records matters on its own. You have made history. But how can young adventurers like you make their success matter even more?

As you rest up and consider your next big conquest, let’s join our hearts and minds together in prayer and planning to help make it even more useful to God and more beneficial to others. Not just by getting better sponsorships or more media attention, but by using the adventure itself to draw attention to some issue that needs it. Think about how you might climb Mount Everest for some worthy cause or traverse the arctic for the glory of God — in a way no one, young or old, ever has before.

Some of our regular readers may wonder why you are pursuing such a unique calling. But maybe that’s because we’ve never really thought about what a sold out Christian adventurer could accomplish for God through his or her claim to fame. So, we ask you and our readers to answer this question: How might souls be saved and lives be touched for the glory to God through these kinds of world-record breaking adventures? We have a few ideas, but we would like to hear what you think.

So, once again, congratulation! Welcome back. Our prayers are with you as you plan for whatever comes next — and we’ve got your back all the way.

In Christ,

Alex and Brett

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Congratulations Zac! You honored Jesus and kept your faith in Him and HE will honor you
    Blessings from Jesus to you!

  • That is amazing! Zac, you have represented the Rebelutionaries marvelously and honored the Lord with this incredible feat.
    Congratulations! I pray you continue to bring glory to the Lord. May He bless you and your work!

  • Way to go, Zac! I personally am Very impressed by the courage it must have taken to stand up to the low expectations people have of us teens, and turn around, grab hold of an opportunity to prove that expectation wrong- while doing it with the right motives and intentions- Honoring and truly bringing the Glory to Jesus. Thank you for challenging so many to become Overcomers through Christ, even at a young age. God bless you and the path which God has lead you to pursue.

  • w00t! GO ZAC! I made a speech about you at my local community college. I mentioned everything about your (at the time) incomplete journey except for your age. Then I mentioned you age and told them to not accept what people expect of them but to go do hard things. You should have seen their faces… lol.

  • ♦ Congrats, Zac!!! I am amazed at what you’ve done. You really set an example to do hard things. We need more people like you; doing what is considered an impossible thing (for a teen), and shouting out for Jesus as you get recognized for it. Great job!!! 😀
    ~Kay Morris♫

  • Welcom home, Zac! You did it… you kept going even when it was hard (it was hard, wasn’t it?). God is soooo good, isn’t He????

  • Congratulations on your achievement and showing people that with God all things are possible.

  • Hi, I read about Zac here in the Rebelution but it made me more happy to see that yesterday the news came to my local paper (I live in Juarez, Mexico) and they not only focused in the travel part but in the more important thing: low expectations about teens and how we can debunk the myth.

  • Way to go Zac! I do want to echo what Alex and Brett have said, when I was watching the live feed I was like, “Yes! He mentioned being a “strong” Christian and being open about his faith and then challenging Atheists! Then challenging young people to “Do Hard Things,”” I wanted to jump up with excitement! Way to go Zac!


  • Sweet! I’m glad he made it! I’m eager to see what’s next on his agenda. 🙂

    Alex & Brett, I totally agree with what you wrote. I pray that this successful adventure will harden his resolve to accomplish even greater things with God’s Glory as the focus.

  • that’s amazing!!! but my newspaper didn’t have the story….at least not wher i could see, no fun! ah well, but that does help me regain my desire to become a sign translator. may not be as cool as sailing around the world, and it may not be a record, but it still will be cool! thanks for the inspiration!!!! lylj! (Love Ya Like Jesus)

  • Glad to here that Zac got gack safely!!! To be honest, when I first heard about your adventure, I thought you were crazy. Not because I didn’t think you could do it, but because I thought it was unsafe. But you spread the gospel and challenged other do do hard things despite things that were being said and any danger that may have been out there and thats great!! Glad your back safe and sound and hopefully in one piece! :)-

  • Amazing. It’s great that God can use you in such a way!! No doubt He will use your voyage and Rebelutionary example in more ways and lives than you know throughout the near and far future. You are such an inspiration, Zac.

  • Congratz Zac! 🙂
    May the Lord bless u!
    Thanks for the example u’re setting for other teens!
    BTW: Luv the Hair

  • Way to go Zac! Its totally awsome for you to be standing up the low expectations set for teens and grabbing hold of God’s plan for your life! Glad you got through the trip and thanks for such a great example for teens around the world! God bless!

  • That’s amazing! You’re yet another example that teenagers can do hard things, and an example for Rebelutionaries everywhere to be open about their faith. Congratulations on a successful voyage!

  • Wow! That’s amazing. He’s only 17-years-old and already he has sailed around the world solo! To answer your question, what comes off the top of my head (it’s a pretty scary place up there) is just to keep doing what he (Zac) is doing, and give God the glory! That is, if that’s what he wants to keep doing record breaking stuff.


  • you truly did a hard thing for the glory of christ-thank you for your example and witness! congratulations and god bless!!

  • Amazing. I would never have been able to do something like what you did without years of intense training. Keep going!

  • Zac, I saw you and your mom interviewed on Huckabee tonight… WOW! What an awesome story and adventure. You inspire me to keep doing Hard Things for Christ! Thank you much!
    Please consider a visit to our school in Huntington Beach to speak to our students and staff.
    Chris Herring, Principal

  • Zac!
    Way to go man!!!
    I heard about it in the “God’s World News” mag and couldn’t wait to find out were you were next!! It’s so cool what you’ve done!!
    God Bless!!!!

  • i’ve been reading the book called “Do Hard Things.” All i want to say is that it’s one of the best books i’ve read that contributes to my life. i want to do something big with my life and every adult says i can be who i want to be “when i’m older” but i want to do things that are curagious and amazing now. i just don’t know where to start.

  • I just loved your book and the conference i went to was fantastic! the part where we made it rain and all the examples in your books really made me want to be apart of it! i hope posting this comment would be a start being apart of the rebelution!

  • hey Zac, i have been keeping track of your trip and i wish i coulld do the same but God has another plan for me. congrats on your safe trip the Lord has been good too your family and i am glad for you all.

  • Thanks for your recommendations on this blog. Just one thing I would want to say is always that purchasing electronic products items through the Internet is nothing new. The truth is, in the past few years alone, the marketplace for online gadgets has grown a great deal. Today, you will find practically just about any electronic unit and product on the Internet, which include cameras and also camcorders to computer pieces and video gaming consoles.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →