Jessica Watson left Sydney, in the 10.2 metre “Pink Lady”, on the 18th October 2009.
She returned on 15th May 2010, after completing about 18,265 nautical miles, on her solo round the world sailing trip.
She completed the trip 3 days before her 17th Birthday.
This was a non-stop and unassisted journey, unlike some others where stops are undertaken, with assistance and repairs carried out. She crossed the equator near Kiritimati.
There has been much said about this voyage not being eligible for the world record, and most criticism lies in the distance being travelled. The world record requires at least 21,600 nautical miles, but her voyage has only been classed as 18,265 nautical miles, by some calculations, although TracPlus data is expected to confirm Jessica’s exact distance as more like 23,000 nautical miles.
However, this is a mute point, as the main criteria that cannot be challenged, is that “the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) does not recognise records by sailors under eighteen”
Jessica Watson’s reply being: “Yes, it’s a shame that my voyage won’t be recognised by a few organisations because I’m under 18, but it really doesn’t worry me”
My own initial view on this voyage was that it was wrong for a 16 year old to be allowed to do such a trip. However, she has completed it and safely, and I feel that she has done very well indeed.
I was also unaware of her qualifications before she began her trip:
- RYA/ISAF Offshore Safety course (ISAF SR 6.01) Cat zero
- RYA Diesel Engine course
- RYA Radar course
- YAs Safety and Sea Survival certificate
- OMTC issued Certificates of Competence for Apply First Aid HTLF301B
- IMO compliant Elementary First Aid Table A VI/1-3 STCW95
- Yachtmaster Ocean theory certificates
- Radio operator’s license
- About 6,000 coastal and 6,000 ocean miles experience.
This map shows the route taken on her voyage, including the Cape Horn passage:
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During her trip down from QLD, she collided with a 63,000-tonne Freighter, the Silver Yang, on 9th September 2009, requiring repairs to be carried out before the actual start.
This caused many people, including myself, to seriously question her ability to safely complete the 20,000 mile round the world journey. She proved she was capable after all.
The current record holder for the youngest solo, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world is held by Jesse Martin, also an Australian, who did the voyage between 8th December 1998 and 31st October 1999, in 327 days at an age of 18 years and 66 days.
Michael Perham began his solo non-stop circumnavigation around the world on 15th November 2008, but after having some stops, this was no longer a non-stop record attempt. The voyage was planned to take 140 days and to cover 40,000 km., but it actually took 284 days, with stops in Portugal, Gran Canaria, Cape Town, Tasmania and Auckland, and covered 24,000 miles (38,700-km), but used the Panama Canal rather than sail around Cape Horn. Reuters