to circumnavigate the globe - Jessica Watson sets world
SYDNEY, Australia -- Australian schoolgirl
Watson, 16, made a triumphant return to Sydney, after
a 23,000 nautical mile (about 38,000km), 210-day voyage that
saw her ride 12-metre swells, eat 576 chocolate bars in her
10-metre yacht - setting the new world record for the Youngest
to circumnavigate the globe nonstop and unassisted.
Photo: Teen sailor Jessica Watson waves
as she sails into Sydney Harbour aboard her yacht, Ella's
Pink Lady. / EPA (enlarge
Harbour Master Steve Young sounded a pink
hooter to signal the official end to her voyage, and a tugboat
sent up a celebratory jet of water as the beaming teen steered
through the harbour mouth, waving to the throng of onlookers.
"I haven't seen a person for almost seven
months and suddenly there's people everywhere, faces, so much
colour, so much noise, so much everything," Watson told reporters.
"It was amazing and very overwhelming."
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined
the teenager's emotional parents Roger and Julie to welcome
her at the Sydney Opera House, where she took her first steps
on dry land in almost seven months, to wild cheers and applause.
"You may feel a little wobbly on your feet just
now," Rudd told Watson, who needed help to hobble on unsteady
feet up the pink carpet from her boat. "But in the eyes of
all Australians, you now stand tall, as our newest Australian
Watson appeared incredulous at her jubilant reception,
broadcast live on commercial television to millions of Australians,
and was quick to dismiss the prime minister's praise. "I don't
consider myself a hero," the schoolgirl said.
"I'm an ordinary girl who believed in a dream."
"You don't have to be someone special or
anything special to achieve something amazing, you've just
got to have a dream, believe in it and work hard."
"I'd like to think that by sailing solo, non-stop
and unassisted around the world I've proved that anything
really can be achieved if you set your mind to it. Anything
really is possible," she said.
Fellow Australian Jesse Martin boarded Watson's
yacht to congratulate her and steer a course to shore so she
could lap up the welcome.
"It took me 11 months and she's done it in seven,
she's flown around the world," an admiring Martin said. "I
think you can say if she can do this she'll be right; she
can do anything."
Another voluble supporter was millionaire businessman
Dick Smith, who predicted that in the months that Watson
was on the high seas there would be thousands of young people
just her age taking far bigger risks taking drugs or driving
"Adventuring around the world in a yacht is far
less risky and far more inspiring," said Smith, who helped
with the financing of Watson's wanderlust.
Photo: Graphic on the round-the-world
voyage of a 16-year-old Australian girl, Jessica Watson /
Watson has undoubtedly fulfilled the standard job
sheet: crossing all meridians of longitude, crossing the equator
and returning to the port of embarkation.
She twice sailed over the equator, crossed all
meridians of longitude and passed the world's four capes as
she traversed the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
The teen said she was looking forward to a few
simple pleasures -- walking on the beach, eating fresh fruit
and reading some new books -- and returning to life as a 16-year-old.
"For now I'm just really happy to do some more
slightly normal things, have a quiet few years to finish school,
that sort of thing," Jessica