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16-year old to sail planet solo

Teenage girl to attempt circumnavigation

by Lauren Smith


Jessica Watson  has a lot more on her plate than the average teenage girl; the 16-year old from the Gold Coast, Australia has set her sights on being the youngest person ever to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world.

Inspired by Kay Cottee, the first woman to sail solo non-stop around the world, and Jesse Martin, the youngest person to make the epic journey, Jessica will set off shortly after her 16th birthday in September 2009, returning before she turns 17 – shaving more than a year off Jesse’s record.

With a route spanning 22,000 nautical miles and a timescale of 7-8 months, Jessica will sail in a Sparkman and Stephens yacht, bought for her by Donna and Maggie McIntyre, two Australian adventurers. The yacht will need a complete refit with radar mapping equipment in order to make the journey.

A keen and experienced sailor despite her age, Jessica says she has always planned to sail around the world.

“It’s been my dream since I was about 11,” she told WideWorld. “It started with Jesse Martin’s book [Lionheart]. After I read this I was sure it was something I wanted to do. I have never changed my mind since. Some people think I thought it up a few months ago. I have wanted to do this, and have been planning for it, for years.”

She also says she’s more than ready to spend a year out at sea. “We’re not an old boating family, but we’ve been cruising and sailing for close to six years.  I was raised on the water. I feel very comfortable and safe there.” Thanks to a hard-working team headed by her parents, plans are “definitely on schedule” for the departure in September.

Follow Jesse’s progress at


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