16-year old completes Sail Around the World in 7 months - learn from this

Australian teen completes round-the-world sail

May 15, 5:36 AM (ET)


SYDNEY (AP) - A 16-year-old Australian who spent seven months at sea
in her pink yacht sailed across the finish line of her round-the-world
journey Saturday, becoming the youngest sailor to circle the globe
solo, nonstop and unassisted.

Thousands of spectators erupted into cheers as Jessica Watson sailed
into Sydney Harbour, the finale to an epic adventure in which she
battled 40-foot (12-meter) waves, homesickness and critics who said
she'd never make it home alive.

"She said she'd sail around the world, and she has," a tearful Julie
Watson said as she watched her grinning daughter cruise past the
finish line from a nearby boat. "She's home."

Watson docked at Sydney's iconic Opera House. The teenager burst into
tears and gasped in relief as she stepped off the yacht and into the
arms of her parents, whose decision to let their daughter attempt the
feat was called an act of insanity by critics.

She hung onto her father and brother as she walked slowly and
tentatively along a pink carpet rolled out in her honor - her first
steps on land in 210 days. Fans screamed and waved as she walked by,
many wearing pink clothes and holding pink flags in a nod to her 34-
foot (10-meter) yacht, Ella's Pink Lady.

"People don't think you're capable of these things - they don't
realize what young people, what 16-year-olds and girls are capable
of," Watson told the raucous crowd. "It's amazing when you take away
those expectations what you can do."

Watson, from Buderim, north of Brisbane in Queensland state, sailed
out of Sydney on Oct. 18 despite protests by critics that she was too
immature and inexperienced for the treacherous journey. Her parents
maintained that she was well-prepared and noted she has been sailing
since the age of 8.

"I don't think any of us would ever doubt Jessica Watson again," said
New South Wales state Premier Kristina Keneally, who greeted Watson at
the Opera House.

Watson's journey took her northeast through the South Pacific and
across the equator, south to Cape Horn at the tip of South America,
across the Atlantic Ocean to South Africa, through the Indian Ocean
and around southern Australia.

Australian Jesse Martin holds the current record for the youngest
person to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted, after he
completed the journey in 1999 at the age of 18.

Martin boarded Watson's boat to take over during her cruise toward the
Opera House, so she could relax and wave to fans. Watson was given a
goodie bag that included a can of whipped cream, which she partially
injected into her mouth before laughing and turning away from the

She was also joined on board by Britain's Mike Perham, who completed a
solo circumnavigation at the age of 17 in 2009, though technical
problems forced him to stop for assistance.

Watson's feat, however, will not be considered an official world
record, because the World Speed Sailing Record Council discontinued
its "youngest" category.

And though she sailed nearly 23,000 nautical miles, some sailing
enthusiasts have also argued that Watson didn't travel far enough
north of the equator for her journey to count as a true round-the-
world sail as defined by the record council's rules. Watson's managers
have dismissed those claims and argued she doesn't need to adhere to
the council's rules anyway, since they won't be recognizing her

The route took Watson through some of the world's most treacherous
waters, and the teen battled through monstrous storms, suffering seven

Watson said she had moments of doubt during those times, but generally
kept her spirits up.

"Amazingly, I just enjoyed it much, much more than I ever thought I
would and handled the challenges better than I thought," she told
journalists. "You don't actually have a choice - you're in the middle
of a storm, you're being knocked down - you can't fall apart."

But her journey was also peppered with moments of beauty. On her blog,
she described stunning sunrises over glassy seas, the excitement of
spotting a blue whale and the dazzling, eerie sight of a shooting star
racing across the night sky above her boat.

She also had fun, chatting about boys and fashion with "Silly," a
little brown seabird that landed on her yacht and hung around for

She sang at the top of her lungs with no audience to critique her and
indulged her sweet tooth with chocolate cupcakes she baked in her tiny
kitchen. A video she shot shows her giggling while dumping a
ceremonial bucket of saltwater over her head after crossing the

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd greeted Watson at the Opera House with a
grin and a hug, dubbing her "Australia's newest hero" - a description
Watson dismissed.

"I'm actually going to disagree with the Prime Minister," she said, as
the crowd laughed. "I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary
girl who believed in her dream."
5/18/2010 1:37:57 AM
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At least she doesn't pretend to be an EE!  Just FYI.

5/18/2010 4:32:10 AM

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