More than a month and a half after embarking on her solo round-the-world bid, 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson is midway through the South Pacific, having made an obligatory detour across the equator and back to satisfy World Sailing Speed Record Council scoring requirements. Jessica’s voyage takes place as two other teenage girls&mdash14-year-old Laura Dekker of Holland and 16-year-old Abby Sunderland (sister of recent teen circumnavigator Zac Sunderland)&mdashprepare for their own round-the-world bids, each hoping to become the youngest solo circumnavigator in history.
Jessica’s journey was known only to Australian sailing enthusiasts before she hit a cargo ship on her first night at sea on her boat Ella’s Pink Lady on a voyage from Mooloolaba to Sydney and launched a worldwide media frenzy. The resultant mainstream publicity has attracted an astonishingly large fan club of watchers.
In the meantime, her American counterpart, 16-year-old Abby Sunderland has reached Marina del Rey in her home port of Los Angeles with her new boat ‘Wild Eyes’ in which she will attempt her own non-stop unassisted circumnavigation in December. As Abby’s boat is much faster than Jessica’s, and she is a couple of months younger, it will be interesting to see the outcome in this undeclared battle to be the youngest.