17 March 2013 - JESSICA WATSON - Aussie Hero

- Young Aussie Hero -
G'day guys,
today I welcome an extraordinary young Australian - Jessica Watson. Who is she?

Jessica Watson, from Buderim, Queensland, is the youngest person to sail around the world, non-stop and unassisted. Jessica was born on May 18, 1993 on the Gold Coast making her 16 when she set sail from Sydney on October 18, 2009.

After 210 days at sea, Jessica arrived back in Sydney Harbour on May 15, 2010. At her welcome back reception she told the world, "I don't consider myself a hero. I'm just an ordinary girl who believed in a dream." On her 10m yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, a S&S (Sparkman and Stephens) 34 she had covered about 23,000 nautical miles (38,000 kilometres).

"She didn't like the water at all, didn't like big waves or the wind too strong because she was so light. She was scared of the water," Julie Watson, her mother recalled.
"But she saw the other kids out there having fun and knew if she wanted to join in she would have to learn to do it. So she did. She gave it a go and and she stuck with it."

In pursuit of her dream, the Sunshine Coast teenager just shy of her 17th birthday, sailed her trusty 34-footer Ella's Pink Lady back through Sydney Heads having survived hurricane-force winds, monstrous seas, frightening lightning storms, frigid conditions, sail damage and five terrifying knockdowns – along with loneliness and even at times a little depression.

 But Jessica, cocooned in her little boat and shielded from the extent her journey, has captured the imagination of millions. She is adamant that she is just a normal person who decided to do something different."l'm not anyone special," she said before she set sail. "I was always the girl who had no confidence but you just stand up and try."

Mrs Watson believes Jessica is just "an ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing". When it was revealed this "extraordinary thing" caused an avalanche of criticism – and parents Julie and Roger were firmly in the eye of the storm.
While Mr Watson originally tried to talk Jessica out of it, her mother knew Jessica was doing everything in her power to prepare properly for the adventure.

And she could not bear the thought of Jessica leaving without knowing she had her mother's support.

"I knew she would do it with or without us. What if she had gone and she didn't have our support? I could never forgive myself," Mrs Watson said.

And while Jessica may not have been able to read that well, by the time she sailed out of Sydney, she had made sure there were no gaps in her education when it came to sailing around the world.

At an age when her friends were engrossed in computer games, Jessica showed amazing determination to achieve her dream – watching an engine being stripped down and then putting it back again, learning to hand-sew sails, doing the same safety and sea course Sydney to Hobart sailors do, clamouring into and out of life-rafts, swimming in full wet-weather gear and letting off flares.

She wrote emails to find backers, asked experienced hands to share their knowledge, watched every machine she could find being stripped so she knew how they worked and could repair them at a pinch.

 She pestered tradesman to show them their craft, took a course in diesel mechanics and washed dishes to pay for airline tickets so she could get more offshore experience delivering yachts to Australia and New Zealand.

Now, watch this video of an amazing young woman as she sails into Sydney Harbour:
Clancy's comment: She is an extraordinary person. Jessica became Junior Australian of The Year and was granted an OAM. What a champion. Love ya work, Jessica ... love ya work!

I'm ...

Clancy O'Tucker
... just for today.

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