A yacht abandoned in the middle of the Indian Ocean by a teenage sailor during an ill-fated round-the-world attempt in 2010 has been found off the Australian coast.

Californian solo sailor Abby Sunderland said her “heart skipped a beat” after South Australia Police confirmed that a barnacle-encrusted, upturned 40ft hull found drifting 12 miles south of Kangaroo Island on Monday was her sloop, Wild Eyes.

She was just 16 and attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone and unassisted when her yacht capsized and lost its mast in mountainous seas between Africa and Australia on June 10, 2010.

Ms Sunderland was rescued two days later by a French trawler 2,000 miles west of Australia.

She was making the attempt after her elder brother Zach became the first person under 18 to sail solo around the world.

Abby Sunderland was attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Credit: AP

The now 25-year-old described seeing reports of the boat’s discovery as “very emotional”.

“It brought back memories – good and not so good – but it was neat to see it after so long,” Ms Sunderland said in a statement.

“It looked a little creepy, that’s to be expected after so long.”

She said she wondered whether video equipment which she used to record her voyage was still inside and hoped that the boat would be retrieved.

Asked if the boat – a potential navigational hazard – would be recovered, a police spokesman said the vessel had disappeared by Thursday and might have sunk.

The barnacle-encrusted hull of Wild Eyes. Credit: South Australia Police