The sailing Sunderlands are back in the spotlight as Zac and his father Laurence will appear on the new season of the popular CBS reality show, "The Amazing Race," which premieres Sunday night.
Zac gained fame in 2009, when at 17 he became the youngest person to have sailed around the world alone.
His younger sister Abby made international headlines a year later, when she tried a solo-circumnavigation at 16, but became the focus of an intense rescue effort after her 40-foot boat became disabled in the Indian Ocean.
Laurence and his wife, Marianne, were relentlessly criticized for allowing both children -- but especially Abby -- attempt to sail around the planet by themselves.
Now Zac, 19, and his dad are featured in a show that pits 11 teams in a race around the world for a $500,000 first prize. Among other competitors are Olympic snowboarders, twin sisters, a former NFL tight end and former "Survivor" winners.
The Sunderlands, who live in Thousand Oaks, Calif., went in as heavy underdogs, Laurence said, because the homeschooled family was raised largely without TV. As a shipwright busy supporting Abby's adventure, Laurence last year turned down an offer to be part of the Emmy-winning series.
"I said no and they asked why and I told them I didn't know what the show was about, because I don't watch television and because I'm a busy person," he said.
Another invite came this year and Zac persuaded his father to accept. Their feeling was that his 13-month adventure, which featured stops in 13 ports, had prepped them for this kind of competition.
"The Amazing Race" fosters antagonism among teammates and Laurence, though he could not divulge too many details because the series hasn't aired yet, said that he and Zac endured many squabbles when they teamed to deliver yachts from port to port as part of his shipwright business.
"We've been put in tight squeezes before and we generally pull in the same direction when it's all coming down on us," Laurence said.
Zac said one of the biggest challenges was sleep deprivation, which he had to deal with often on his sailing adventure. "I think that and all my travel helped me out a lot with being able to acclimate to a different way of life and a different culture," he said, without divulging how his team fared. "And being able to figure out a way from Point A to Point B even with a bunch of craziness going on."
''The Amazing Race" airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times.
As for Abby Sunderland, she's enjoying a different kind of spotlight. The documentary about her adventure, "Wild Eyes, the Abby Sunderland Story," won the People's Choice Award at the recent Big Bear International Film Festival in Big Bear Lake, Calif. It also picked up Best New Director honors at the Silent River Film Festival in Irvine, Calif.
Laurence Sunderland, who recently launched WorldWind Productions, directed the documentary.
-- Image showing Zac Sunderland (right) and his father during the filming of "The Amazing Race" is courtesy of CBS and protected by copyright laws