In the coming days, Australian teenager Jessica Watson is set to resume her record bid to sail non-stop around the world. On September 9, just off North Stradbroke Island, Watson was on her way to Sydney on a test run and crashed into a 63,000 tonne cargo vessel. This caused damage to the rigging as well as stress to the internal structure of her yacht.
After investigations, Maritime Safety Queensland believed the teenager had probably “dozed off” before the accident. She also neglected to turn on a collision warning beacon. Despite urges for her to cancel her attempt to sail around the world, Jessica plans to continue with the voyage. In the meanwhile, she has been completing trials off the Gold Coast in her 33-foot yacht.
Since the accident, critics have put Watson and her family under scrutiny over the dangerous record-break attempt. Anna Bligh, the Queensland Premier, as well as other senior politicians are questioning her high-risk voyage. On Monday Bligh stated “This is a very high-risk venture, frankly it’s one that I would be reconsidering, but ultimately it’s a decision for them.”
Despite opposition, Watson is also overwhelmed with messages of support. Repairs are being conducted on the mast and sail, and Watson feels confident about heading to Sydney again this weekend. Last month 13-year-old Laura Dekkers was denied by a Dutch court ruling to embark on a solo round-the-world voyage. The current record holder is fellow Australian Jesse Martin, who completed the journey ten years ago at the age of 18.
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