Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old Australian girl, completed her circumnavigation of the globe on Saturday, becoming the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around world. Watson, who has achieved rock star status in Australia, arrived in Sydney Harbor to a welcoming flotilla of hundreds of boats, 50,000 cheering spectators and the Australian prime minister.
Watson spent 7 months at sea on her 34-foot yacht, Pink Lady, traveling 23,000 nautical miles. She endured 40-foot seas and several knock downs – when the boat’s mast comes near level with the ocean’s surface. She chronicled her epic through her blog via a satellite link.
A couple of weeks ago, Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old from California, ended her quest to sail the globe nonstop after her boat’s autopilot broke and she was forced to land in Cape Town, South Africa, for repairs.
The World Speed Sailing Record Council, the official body that keeps track of world records in sailing, has stopped giving awards for being the youngest to sail the world, so Watson’s feat won’t get the official stamp of approval. Purists also note that she didn’t sail far enough north of the equator to achieve the technical definition of a world record.
The publishers, movie producers and TV networks reportedly knocking on Watson cabin door don’t seem to care much what the officials think.
Photo: NSW Maritime