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Jessica Watson Makes Waves in 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with Mission for Stroke Awareness

RSHYR: Jessica Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare after finishing the 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Watson, known for sailing single-handed around the world at age 16, arrived to a huge crowd and completed her third Sydney-Hobart race, raising awareness for stroke prevention and treatment. Women excelled in this year's race, with notable achievements from various female sailors.

  • 71 boats finished the race, with 18 retirements and 16 retirements so far.
  • Alive, skippered by Duncan Hine, won the overall race, securing its second victory in five years.
  • Vanessa Dudley sailed her 25th Hobart, and Annika Thomson won the Jane Tate Memorial for the first female skipper to cross the finish line.
  • 87 vessels listed as racing or finished.
  • Huey not allowing many through to Hobart at this time.

Read more at www.sail-world.com

The summary of the linked article was generated with the assistance of artificial intelligence technology from OpenAI

www.sail-world.com • Di Pearson/RSHYR Media

RSHYR: Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare

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sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

The West Australian

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Jessica Watson finishes her first Sydney to Hobart yacht race

JESSICA Watson has arrived in Hobart to a hero's welcome after completing her first Sydney to Hobart, with the youngest crew ever to contest the race.

Watson's crewmate Will Broughton threw her into Constitution Dock on their arrival in to Hobart this afternoon.

As the 18-year-old emptied her sea boots of water she laughed with her crewmates at being given the traditional skippers dunking.

"That was so much fun," she said of competing in her first Sydney to Hobart.

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"It was quite amazing."

Watson said she and her team had experienced everything she had expected from the race, including tough upwind conditions.

"It was quite a hard one," said the 18-year-old who sailed round the world on her own when just 16.

Watson paid tribute to her young crew for getting them all safely to Hobart, but still had some words of advice as they all hugged for a photo.

"Boy, someone needs some deodorant," she laughed.

Despite their youth - the average age of the crew is just 19.5 years - Ella Bache Another Challenge finished second in the highly competitive Sydney 38 class in this year's Sydney to Hobart.

"That's incredible," Watson said after being given a loud cheer by thousands of well-wishers when the yacht arrived in Hobart.

Watson and her team were part of a large flotilla which sailed down the Derwent River under spinnaker en-mass this afternoon.

This morning, just 17 yachts had finished the race but by 4.30pm that number had swelled to 48.

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VIDEO : Charting Her Course | Jessica Watson

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

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INTRODUCTION, LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Hello. Do you remember Jessica Watson? You'd have to cast your mind back to 2010, when the 16 year old sailed into Sydney Harbour to a hero's welcome after becoming the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world. Well she's 29 now, can you believe, and recently she's had to draw on all that strength and resilience she learned at sea to deal with a sudden loss.

JESSICA WATSON: I think part of what I enjoyed about Melbourne in the first few years I was here was that I was a little bit more anonymous. I've got away with not being recognised as much and just being part of the crowd because people just don't expect you there.

JEREMY O'CONNELL, FRIEND: She's flattered when she's recognised, but she certainly doesn't need it because I don't think the fame is important to her.

JESSICA WATSON: It is a little scary sometimes. Someone can still go, 'Oh yeah, aren't you that girl in that pink boat?'.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOCUMENTARY, JESSICA ON THE VOYAGE)

JESSICA WATSON: The one thing you just really don't get by looking at the chart is just how many miles there really are out here, how far it really is.

(SAILING HALL OF FAME DOCUMENTARY)

NARRATOR: Jessica Watson's decision to attempt a solo and unassisted circumnavigation of the world at just 16 captured world headlines.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Jess has never sought fame. It just found her, and she's had to learn from a very young age how to deal with it.

(NEWS COVERAGE OF HOMECOMING)

REPORTER: This is the moment of complete jubilation.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: The world's changed for her after this voyage. Everything changed for her after that.

REPORTER 3: An extraordinary day for Jessica Watson.

JESSICA WATSON: I think there was a long period where I was trying to escape a little bit, the past and the voyage and being solely remembered as that.

(MOVIE PREMIERE, 'PINK CARPET')

REPORTER: What is it like to have a movie made about something so important that happened to you over a decade ago?

JESSICA WATSON: Oh it's surreal, it's so strange. I've seen it a few times but it's still just a lot to take in.

(MOVIE PREMIERE 'PINK CARPET')

PHOTOGRAPHER: Okay that's it.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: There's no doubt that with the movie coming out that it will thrust Jess into the spotlight again.

JESSICA WATSON: It's almost completely arrogant not to be excited about the fact that there's a movie being made about your life. There's such a sense of, oh gosh, what am I getting myself into, here we go again. I feel like I've had enough fuss made of me to last 50 lifetimes, but I'm going to give it a go.

(CHARTING HER COURSE, SHOW TITLE PLAYS)

(JESSICA AND CREW SAILING)

JESSICA WATSON: Being on the water and the ocean, it's just so much a part of me and I've leant on it and used it kind of really, really heavily. Being on it or near it is just the only way, I suppose, to just really feel okay.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: It's been a really difficult period for Jess. It's been really hard to watch, actually. She's coping as best as she can under very, very difficult circumstances.

JESSICA WATSON: In those really, really tough moments, it was leaning on the people closest to me that were really holding me up.

SAM DUNCAN, FRIEND: Cam was Jess's partner of 10 years. Cam and Jess raced as part of the crew on PP1, which is a racing yacht sailing out of Sandringham Yacht Club in Port Phillip.

SAILOR: Go one go main, hold angle, hold angle, and on the brace now.

SAM DUNCAN, FRIEND: About a year and a half ago. Jess lost Cam in a really unexpected way. Cam had a stroke. I had no idea that something like that would happen to someone at 29 years of age.

SAILOR: Go hard down wind, down wind. All the way down wind.

JESSICA WATSON: I had no idea what the, you know, the depths of pain and grief could be like, and how bad that could be.

SAILOR: Keep going, hold that.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Jessica's managed to tap into an inner strength, and I think a lot of those mechanisms have come from her around the world voyage, which taught her how to overcome adversity. She's always managed to find a way to navigate through the difficult times in her life.

(OLD PHOTOS OF JESSICA AND FAMILY MONTAGE)

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: Jess is the second of the four children. The kids were all born on the Gold Coast. They had a very outdoor childhood. We did a lot of camping, a lot of four-wheel driving. We were always going somewhere on the weekends.

JESSICA WATSON: We actually sort of learnt to sail as a family. In my early years sailing, I was terrified a lot of the time. I was really scared.

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: Someone at the sailing club suggested that we should buy a boat and go north. So we thought, oh, that's a good idea.

JESSICA WATSON: We went on to live on the boat for many years, sort of travelling around a while and doing home school. It was obviously planting ideas and helping us realise that there are other ways to do life.

(CHILDHOOD PHOTOS OF JESSICA)

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: Jess's Dyslexia was a problem for her schooling, but I didn't want that to define her either, you know that I wanted other things in her life that she was good at, and I read her a lot of books.

JESSICA WATSON: And it was one particular book, Jesse Martin's Story Lionheart, that really did all the damage. So Jesse sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world as an 18-year-old.

(VIDEO OF JESSE MARTIN ON HIS SAILING TRIP)

JESSE MARTIN, SOLO SAILER: Man this swell is awesome, you know it's just huge. It's really fun actually.

JESSE MARTIN: What I learnt from my trip was that it started with a dream, and that dream gets encouraged. And then if it does, you just don't know where it will end up.

JESSICA WATSON: He was relatable for me and that just gave me this connection between, he's a normal guy. He did that. I'm normal. Maybe I could do something like that.

JESSICA WATSON: I must have been 12. So I didn't ask my parents. It was kind of telling them that I wanted to be the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOCUMENTARY, JESSICA WATSON AS A TEEN)

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: She must have been bloody brave to put that out there, but, you know, over the next year when she started putting stuff in place, you know, like this is serious.

DON MCINTYRE, SAILOR AND ADVENTURER: I'm an adventurer and I enjoy supporting other young adventurers to get out there and have a go because life is all about inspiration. We had a fantastic conversation and I really detected something very special, that she was not your typical 15-year-old little girl. But very focused, very determined and very real. But, it was pretty clear that without a boat it wasn't going to happen.

(OLD VISION OF JESSICA AND CREW WORKING ON SAIL BOAT)

JESSICA WATSON: It wasn't until Don actually said, 'Okay, alright, I'm buying you the boat', that things started really coming together.

DON MCINTYRE, SAILOR AND ADVENTURER: The boat was about five and a half tonnes so she's moving five and a half tonne of boat.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER: I met Jess, this little skinny 15-year-old girl, about five foot nothing, that was going to sail around the world in a pink boat and immediately I was like everybody else, you think what, that's just crazy.

JESSICA WATSON: Frase, Andrew, really helped the project gain some kind of professional support and sponsorship and kickstarted it.

(NEWS REPORT PRE-VOYAGE)

REPORTER: Can you do it? Can you be the youngest around the world?

JESSICA WATSON: I find that a bit of an annoying question because I wouldn't be here if I wasn't, if I didn't have every confidence that I can do this.

(VISION OF CROWDS WATCHING JESSICA DEPART)

DON MCINTYRE: Everything was looking pretty good. The boat was prepared and Jessica set out on her first sea trial down to Sydney.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOCUMENTARY)

ROGER WATSON, JESSICA'S FATHER: Love you.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER: We're going to go back for lunch, see ya.

JESSICA WATSON: So the first night out to sea, I went to get some sleep. There should have been alarms that would have alerted me to ships nearby. They didn't go off.

JESSICA WATSON: It was a whole series of things that went wrong. The movie shows this sort of slightly simplified version of events where I forgot to set an alarm, which is, you know, there was definitely some user error on my behalf.

JESSICA WATSON: I woke up to the horrendous noise of being scraped down the side of a ship.

JESSICA WATSON: I stuck my head up, you know, in time to sort of see the wall of steel that was a ship's hull. I stuck my head straight back downstairs, put my hands over my head and heard the mast snap.

(NEWS REPORT)

REPORTER: It's not the way her dream run was supposed to end, but 16-year-old Jessica Watson was trying to stay positive.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: I got told, get on a plane to the Gold Coast and you need to deal with the media.

(MEDIA CONFERENCE)

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: There was an incident just before 2:00am last night where Jess was hit by a rather large cargo ship, in fact 63,000 tonnes.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER: We should also make it quite clear that this was a seat trial. This wasn't the start of her voyage.

JESSICA WATSON: I won't play it down it was a pretty scary incident and it was great to know what to do.

JESSICA WATSON: Facing up to those cameras and that media scrum and the aftermath of that is absolutely something I still draw strength from to sort of have gotten through that.

JESSICA WATSON: It's alright, really I'm okay but I lost half my mast.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: And from that moment forward, everything changed. It had gone from being this low-profile voyage to all of a sudden, Jessica Watson was a household name, but for all the wrong reasons.

REPORTER: Premier Bligh has urged solo adventurer Jessica Watson to rethink her voyage around the world.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: It was extraordinary, the level of criticism. I would receive emails saying, 'If you let this girl go, you've got blood on your hands'.

REPORTER: Both State and Federal authorities are investigating if there is a way to stop the teenager from sailing after a damning maritime safety report.

JESSICA WATSON: As horrific and embarrassing as it was, all the preparation sort of kicked in and that really gave me the confidence to go, in the worst situations I'm going to be able to hold myself together and do what I need to.

JULIE WATSON, MOTHER: See you later. Have a lovely time. Don't forget to enjoy it.

DON MCINTYRE, SAILOR AND ADVENTURER: Jessica's ambition was to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted all the way around the world. It was a unique track to head up into the Northern Hemisphere, and back down underneath Cape Horn. Then across the South Atlantic to underneath Africa and then across the Indian Ocean all the way back underneath Australia, back to Sydney. It's about 23,000 nautical miles and it's quite a feat because you cannot stop for anymore supplies. You've got all your own food, water, medical supplies, safety gear, everything.

(VIDEO DIARY ON VOYAGE)

JESSICA WATSON: Yeah so I've just been keeping busy with tonnes of little stuff, keeping the boat happy, keeping me happy.

JESSICA WATSON: The plan was that I'd be writing blogs, ideally daily, as well as video blogging when possible so people could follow along and be part of the journey as well.

JESSICA WATSON: The first leg was pretty beautiful sailing through the Pacific, so through the tropics.

(VIDEO DIARY)

JESSICA WATSON: Sailing along really slowly. Not much going on.

JESSICA WATSON: Just that sense of how beautiful it is to be under the power of sail and alone in that environment.

JESSICA WATSON: Just lots of blue water out there. So that's pretty cool.

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: She checked in twice a day on the satellite phone. So usually a morning and night.

JESSICA WATSON: Well it's my first time crossing the equator, so it's traditional to have a dunk in the salt water as you go across. Here goes.

JESSICA WATSON: Sometimes I could set the boat up and she'd sail for weeks on end without me really having to do anything.

JESSICA WATSON: Hey, just cooking dinner at the moment and tonight we're having a tin pie.

JESSICA WATSON: So I'd be reading, writing my blogs, chatting to friends on the satellite phone, and very, very rarely doing a little bit of schoolwork.

JESSICA WATSON: Christmas morning and I'm having a foggy one out here which is pretty cool. And I just treated myself to washing my hair and then ran the heater for 15 minutes.

DON MCINTYRE, SAILOR AND ADVENTURER: The challenges themselves are immense and the biggest one is the psychological challenge, you know to complete a voyage like this is a real mind game.

JESSICA WATSON: 370 nautical miles from Cape Horn and we're just sitting here going nowhere, we're calmed again, just flopping around it's just really starting to get to me again today. It's just driving me crazy, we're so close to the Cape and lying down here. We should be having lots of wind and we should be making great progress and we're rolling about going nowhere.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: I think that's probably where she shed the most tears, which was when there was no wind, ironically enough.

JESSICA WATSON: Here we go, we've got Cape Horn just poking out through the clouds. It looks absolutely amazing.

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: Cape Horn is, you know, they call it the Everest of sailing. If she could get around Cape Horn, she could get round the world.

JESSICA WATSON: Well how about this? We've done it we've rounded cape horn.

(VIDEO OF PARENTS IN A PLANE FLYING OVER JESSICA)

JULIE WATSON, MOTHER: Pink lady, this is the Cessna with mum and dad in here. We're only a few minutes away from you, so you should be able to see us very soon.

JESSICA WATSON: Yeah okay I'll come up and see if I can spot you, over.

JULIE WATSON, MOTHER: Oh no.

JESSICA WATSON: Mum and dad were able to fly over, out from Cape Horn, which was which was awesome.

JULIE WATSON, MOTHER: There she is.

JESSICA WATSON: Here we go again, nice and close. Wow, you can hear the engines.

JULIE WATSON, MOTHER: It was all and everything that I ever thought it was because it really impressed upon you how small that boat is in that bloody huge ocean.

ROGER WATSON, FATHER: Bye Jessie, love you heaps.

JESSICA WATSON: Love you Dad, have a good trip back.

ROGER WATSON, FATHER: See you darling.

JESSICA WATSON: After Cape Horn, it was into the South Atlantic Ocean where we struck a really nasty storm. This was the one that was really dangerous.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: The waves were between 70 and 100 foot, and pretty soon Jess had experienced five knockdowns. A knockdown is when the mast goes beyond the horizontal and into the water. The rogue wave picked up the whole boat and knocked it well under water.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOCUMENTARY, TREACHEROUS SEAS)

JESSICA WATSON: Oh, very big wave. We can't see the motion, but we're keeling over quite a bit.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: I'll never forget when the EPIRB went off. It's the emergency beacon. When it goes off, it means that the boat's at least three metres underwater and we had no contact with Jessica for a period of time and, everybody was like, completely speechless. It was so stressful.

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: There's just no way she would have set off an EPIRB unless she thought that was the end, you know, and I thought, this is the end.

JESSICA WATSON: There was a period, a couple of hours maybe where I was contemplating whether, whether this was it.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: I think she's the only one that will ever know how bad those five hours were during that storm.

JESSICA WATSON: I'd really like to just go to sleep for like 8 hours instead of half an hour or an hour until the next alarm wakes me up. And there it goes now, see I didn't even get five minutes.

JESSE MARTIN, FRIEND: By time the Jess was sailing back into Australian waters, I think that's when her fame really started to build.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOUCMENTARY)

REPORTER: Talk about something completely different out on the deep blue Sea, it's time to catch up with Jessica Watson.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: It was everywhere. It was front page of all the newspapers and all of a sudden we started to realise, wow, this thing is going to be huge.

JESSICA WATSON: God I'm going to miss it so much out here. It's just so beautiful and it's so simple. It's just, lovely.

REPORTER: From Sydney to Sydney via the world, the teenage girl in her little pink boat has made it.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: She'd sailed almost 24,000 miles for seven months across some of the most treacherous oceans on the planet and sailing back into Sydney to an incredible homecoming.

(VIDEO OF JESSICA PULLING INTO SYDNEY HARBOUR, HUGE CROWD)

EMCEE: Ladies and gentleman, welcome Jessica Watson home.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Jessica was only 16, three days before her 17th birthday.

REPORTER: She did what she promised to do and her life is changed forever by her achievement.

JESSICA WATSON: I don't think people realise how overwhelming it was because after a long period away from land, everything feels close and the sensations and the smells and the noises and the colours. All of these things are really, really vivid and overwhelming.

JULIE WATSON, JESSICA'S MOTHER: When she stepped off the boat, it was just, you've made it, yeah. You've made it, yeah.

KEVIN RUDD, THEN PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Jess, in the eyes of all Australians, you now stand tall as our newest Australian hero.

JESSICA WATSON: I'm actually going to disagree with what our PM has just said. I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her 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.

(MONTAGE OF MEDIA INTERVIEWS PLAYING OVER EACH OTHER)

JESSICA WATSON: We were quite worried but um…

JESSICA WATSON: I've become the youngest person to sail solo…

JESSICA WATSON: Traditional sailing family…

JESSICA WATSON: And I was also going to do it in the safest possible way…

JESSICA WATSON: The couple of years after the voyage were just crazy. So many amazing, exciting things.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: She had no choice but to grow up very quickly. And that's a challenge for a 16, 17-year-old girl to have to constantly deal with public adoration and media virtually on a daily basis, for the next two years after she returned from the voyage.

(7.30 REPORT)

JULIA GILLARD, THEN PRIME MINISTER: The Winner of Young Australian of the year is Jessica Watson.

JESSICA WATSON: Very soon afterwards the book I wrote about the voyage was published. So that led to book tours around the world. I got involved with the United Nations World Food Programme. And Dancing with the Stars. There's something that I maybe shouldn't have done because I'm certainly not a natural dancer.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: It didn't take long for Jess to ring me up and say, I'm doing another project. I said, 'Oh, here we go. What's this one?'.

RERPOTER: Jessica Watson is heading back to the ocean as skipper of the youngest crew ever to compete in Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

JESSICA WATSON: Alright guys, you ready for a hoist?

ANDREW FRASER: That's where she met Cam.

REPORTER: So far those on board say Jessica isn't too bossy.

CAMERON DALE, SAILOR: She doesn't yell at me like other skippers so, nah it's good.

JESSICA WATSON: Cam was one of the people that I was told he'd be great, has great experience. And the first time I talked to him, I just remember thinking, hmm, maybe not. There was definitely a little bit of, Oh, who's this? He thinks he's all right. And of course, the first time I met him, I was just needing to pretend that I wasn't totally like, wow, who is this? And trying to play it cool. But there was something special there right from the start.

REPORTER: Boats continue to pour into Hobart.

JESSICA WATSON: We came second in our division in that race, a result that we're really proud of.

REPORTER: Around the world sailor Jessica Watson and her teenage crew arrived to a big reception.

(PHOTOS OF CAM AND JESS TOGETHER)

SAM DUNCAN, FRIEND: Cam and Jess had become very, very close. And when things became romantic, I don't think anyone was surprised.

JEREMY O'CONNELL, FRIEND: Cam and Jess were together for 10 years from 2011. They love to take the Cape31 just out on Port Phillip and sail that around together. And they planned to do that kind of thing forever.

JESSICA WATSON: I think I realised how much I also really enjoyed kind of being able to just slip into the role of Cam's girlfriend because it was a way to kind of step away from everything else and maybe almost hide behind him a little bit too, and I really enjoyed that.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Jess moving to Melbourne, being with Cam, was virtually the start of a new normal life. And she's worked really hard to get to where she is now. She's done an MBA. She's got a good career path now.

(JESSICA AT WORK IN AN OFFICE)

OFFICE WORKER: Oh, this is a beautiful space.

JESSICA WATSON: So these days, I'm a manager in Deloitte's human capital consulting team, so that's essentially management consulting.

JESSICA WATSON: Been a good week? Big go live, pretty smooth?

JESSICA WATSON: Being dyslexic has probably made me more determined and learn to have to kind of work around or overcome challenges. But I think there's something in there about just that sort of slightly different way of thinking.

JESSICA WATSON: Your projects are a lot shorter these days, aren't they, Jenny?

COLLEAGUE: They are, yeah.

JESSICA WATSON: Occasionally I get someone who's just so confused about what that Sailor-girl is doing in this office, you know in this really corporate environment.

(NEWS REPORT FROM MOVIE PREMIERE)

REPORTER: It's the sort of story movies are made of. Now Jessica Watson's is destined for the big screen. Now a whole new generation will have the chance to share the journey all over again.

JESSICA WATSON: Frase is the one that's just really, incredibly, persistently been determined to see the story turned into a movie.

(TRUE SPIRIT DOUCMENTARY SCENES)

ACTOR: Stop, please, stop.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Pre-production on True Spirit, the Netflix movie, started on the Gold Coast in June 2021, and Jessica and Cameron were up there working as technical consultants on the film to make sure we got all the sailing components exactly right.

SAM DUNCAN, FRIEND: Cam was very excited for the film to be made. I think he was very excited for the story to be told.

JEREMY O'CONNELL, FRIEND: Cam was what you call a average, healthy 29-year-old male with no underlying health conditions that anyone knew of. Cam had no idea that he had high blood pressure.

JESSICA WATSON: Completely out of the blue, he started feeling really unwell all of a sudden and symptoms that obviously we quite quickly worked out that were symptoms of a, of a stroke. Took him straight to hospital, and the first advice was that it was a minor bleed actually, in the brain, but it's going to be okay. And then, of course it wasn't because he had the second stroke, which was just catastrophic.

JESSICA WATSON: After the second stroke, you know, we spent weeks and weeks in hospital. I think it was nearly six weeks. You know, that time was utterly traumatic. But, you know, at the same time, talking to him about every single memory, going through both of our phones full of 10 years of photos and memories, and I like to think I poured every tiny bit of love, you know, into him that I that I could. For a while, sort of desperately hoping that he might recover. But realising along the way and that that that wasn't going to be the case.

MANDY DRENNAN, FRIEND: He was 29 when he passed away, just shy of his 30th birthday.

JEREMY O'CONNELL, FRIEND: It's brutal. It's a tragedy. That's the only word I can think of to, describe it. I don't think anyone knows or will know ,how Jess got through it, and is still going through it, by the way.

JESSICA WATSON: I think it took a long time to really sink in. It took a very long time to really hit me. I really learned how bad and how scary, I suppose, your head can get. To sort of realise there's nothing you can do, nowhere you can go and you can't avoid it.

JESSICA WATSON: I thought I'd been through some pretty intense things, and faced a lot. But I was completely sort of cocooned in all this amazing support. But at the same time, I was definitely really struggling and not wanting to be here without Cam, really. It's that simple. It's just so bad that you want the pain to stop.

JESSICA WATSON: I've certainly learned with grief, tell people what you need. Don't leave them to guess.

MANDY DRENNAN, FRIEND: She did all the right things and she got help, and the crew of PP1 have definitely like gotten around her and supported her.

SAM DUNCAN, FRIEND: Since Cam's passed away, the one thing that I was always sure of is that, he would always want us to keep sailing.

(VIDEO OF JESSIC AND THE CREW SAILING)

SAILOR: Fair going.

JESSICA WATSON: I suppose if you wanted to kind of design the perfect sort of way to cope with grief, this would probably be it. Out in the saltwater, out in the wind and waves. Going sailing almost feels like a way of celebrating him. It just feels like really doing something right, by Cam.

JESSICA WATSON: I don't really know what the future holds beyond doing things that feel purposeful and meaningful. And that's doing as much as I can for organisations like the Stroke Foundation, helping people remember to check their blood pressure. I really, really feel so motivated and excited about those things.

(MOVIE PREMIERE)

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Hey, look at you.

JESSICA WATSON: Nice pink shirt.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: How you going?

JESSICA WATSON: Good.

ANDREW FRASER, MANAGER AND FRIEND: Ready to roll?

JESSICA WATSON: Ready as we'll ever be.

JESSE MARTIN, FRIEND: With the film coming out now, it was the last thing I think, on her mind, to be to be talking publicly again.

(JESSICA ON THE 'PINK CARPET' AT THE MOVIE PREMIERE)

REPORTER: You are on the grief journey.

JESSICA WATSON: It's a year and half now and of course all of this has so many layers of emotion and it's absolutely honouring Cam to sort of try and enjoy this as much as possible.

REPORTER: Look at me I'm the one that's crying.

JESSICA WATSON: I'm keeping the makeup intact for now. But um, that's coming later I have no doubt.

JESSICA WATSON: It's odd, but maybe I don't have the energy to be awkward about being in the spotlight. It just sort of, is what it is at this point.

PHOTOGRAPHER: To this camera, ready, three, two, one, great, cool keep smiling.

JESSICA WATSON: I'm having fun with this. And that's obviously something that I've learned to such an extent since Cam's passing. And he wanted me to have fun with this.

(JESSICA RESPONDING TO REPORTER QUESTIONS AT THE MOVIE PREMIERE)

JESSICA WATSON: It's just the best, you get to have all the fun and all the trouble without any of the responsibility so have fun.

JESSICA WATSON: I'm 29 and I suppose I just have this sense of having lived a lot. A lot of absolute, you know, terrible, you know, things and so much pain. But also, there's so much that's extraordinary, and um, yeah a lot.

VANESSA GORMAN, PRODUCER: Do you want to have a quieter life?

JESSICA WATSON: No, I don't think so. No. I suppose I hope that I keep throwing myself into it.

Introduced by presenter Leigh Sales

When Jessica Watson sailed back into Sydney Harbour in 2010 after completing her solo non-stop voyage around the world, she was still only 16 years old.

But the huge public attention her feat attracted would change her life forever.

Not entirely comfortable with fame, Jessica worked hard to create a normal life away from the spotlight and built a new career as a management consultant.

Meeting her partner Cameron while sailing the Sydney to Hobart yacht race meant she was no longer travelling solo and the couple built a life together in Melbourne.

But in 2021 tragedy struck and Jessica had to negotiate her grief by drawing on some of the lessons learned during her epic voyage.

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ABC News feature article |  Jessica Watson shares how lessons learnt at sea helped her navigate the waves of grief over losing partner

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Jessica Watson, 18, finishes 37th

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HOBART, Australia -- Teenager Jessica Watson can add the grueling Sydney to Hobart yacht race to her list of sailing accomplishments.

The 18-year-old Watson, who last year became the youngest person to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted, finished 37th on Friday of 88 starting yachts.

Her yacht crossed the line at Constitution Docks in 4 days, 2 hours, 12 minutes -- nearly two days behind winning supermaxi Investec Loyal in the 628-nautical-mile race.

Watson took the helm of a Sydney 38-class boat with a youngest-ever race crew of 10, including fellow solo circumnavigator Mike Perham of Britain. The average age of Watson's crew, which made a practice run from Sydney to Hobart in November, was 19.

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AZZURRO, Sail no: 3430, Owner: Jack Kliner, Design: S&S 34, Country: AUS

Jessica Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare

When Azzurro, the ‘Little Boat That Could’, docked in Hobart this afternoon just before 3.45pm, there was a huge crowd waiting to meet her – or more precisely, one of her crew – Jessica Watson OAM, who had just finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

As a 16 year-old, Watson sailed single-handed, nonstop and unassisted around the world. At the time of leaving, she came up against a lot of opposition, but proved her critics wrong.

Now 30, she remains one of the most modest and ordinary people you could meet. 

Stepping ashore from the S&S 34  Azzurro  (Ella’s Pink Lady which she sailed around the world was the same design), after finishing the 2023 Sydney Hobart, Watson said, “Someone asked if we had broken anything and we said ‘just six people!

“We have bumps and bruises and one of the guys had a bit of a cut on the hand. But all are OK and the boat was great,” she said of the boat Jack Kliner from Queensland recently bought from Shane Kearns.

Kliner said, “I’ll be calling Shane to let him know how we went. I know he will have been watching and I hope we did him proud.”

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Credit: ROLEX/Kurt Arrigo

Watson sailed her third Sydney-Hobart to raise awareness for the risk factors of stroke and advocating for prevention and treatment of strokes after losing her long time partner to a stroke in 2021.

In addition, she enjoys sailing and an adventure. Asked about the race, Watson said: “It was awesome, but brutal. Really, really unrelenting.

“It was either no wind, which was really frustrating, or a lot of wind and that was tough and hard.”

She and the crew were just happy to be in Hobart and to be received by a huge crowd and in time for the New Year.

Watson is one of so many women who have been lauded in the race this year. Women navigated the winner  Alive  and second placed  URM Group . Vanessa Dudley sailed her 25 th  Hobart and Annika Thomson won the Jane Tate Memorial for the first female skipper to cross the finish line, while others finished top three in their divisions.    

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Race winner decided by 51 seconds

Helen Fretter

  • Helen Fretter
  • December 27, 2023

The 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race line honours battle is settled in the final gybe after one of the closest finishes in the race’s history, with Law Connect winning ahead of long-time leader Andoo Comanche.

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Law Connect has won the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race line honours, after the closest finish in over 40 years, which ended in a gybe-for-gybe battle up the Derwent River against long-time leader Andoo Comanche .

Andoo Comanche held the advantage going into the Derwent with a two-mile lead, John Winning Jr’s crew crowded onto the bow in the light early morning winds to try and lift Comanche’s 8m beamy transom, which gives the yacht the nickname the ‘aircraft carrier’.  

Law Connect followed up the Derwent River with a knot or two more breeze, and were able to close the gap some two miles from the finish line, but the waters outside Hobart were littered with glassy patches, and each boat repeatedly battled to maintain hull speed through windless holes.

After 628 miles of racing, the lead changed repeatedly in the final half hour, with Law Connect taking the advantage on the final gybe for the line to roll over the top of Andoo Comanche and cross the line ahead.  

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Law Connect overtakes Andoo Comanche metres from the finish line of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

It was an exceptional display of light winds tactical match racing, with Law Connect helmsman Tony Mutter and tactician Chris Nicholson directing Christian Beck’s team to victory, after being 2nd on three previous years . Law Connect crossed the Castray Esplanade finish line in Hobart at 08.03.58am local time after 1 day 19 hours 03 minutes 58 seconds of racing.

Beck gave a self-deprecating speech after, praising the crew for their efforts on a boat he admitted was not as fast or well-funded as their rivals. “I honestly can’t believe it. I rated it about a 25% chance we’d win, so to win was just amazing.

“An hour ago we were about 3 miles behind Comanche, so to win – I still can’t believe it.”

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Law Connect (SYD 1000)a Juan K 100ft Custom design, on its way to winning the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Mixed 2023 Sydney Hobart Race

The 2023 edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart has so far seen truly mixed conditions. The Boxing Day start delivered its customary spectacle, as the three 100ft maxis led the fleet out of a packed Sydney Habour. Law Connect gave an impromptu demonstration of how to gybe a giant overlapping headsail after breaking a furling line that left them unable to tack around a turning mark, while Scallywag took penalty turns once in clear water after a port-starboard incident with Comanche shortly after the start.

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Start of the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. Photo: Rolex/Andrea Francolini

Over the first two days of racing the fleet had to contend with electrical storms, squalls and severe sea states, as well as periods of light winds, and there have been 11 retirements so far. They included another line honours hopeful, the 100ft Scallywag , which had to retire after snapping the bowsprit in the first day of racing.

Other boats retired due to rigging damage, mainsail damage, and severe seasickness caused by the unpleasant sea state.  

Most dramatically the double-handed entry Rum Rebellion retired after being knocked down and having a Man Overboard, who was safely recovered.  

Co-skipper Shane Connelly reported that they were approximately 20 miles offshore on the first evening of the race, sailing under full main and spinnaker in 6-10 knots of wind, when the wind suddenly increased to over 16 knots with a ‘ferocious’ looking storm cloud approaching from behind.  

The duo prepared to drop the spinnaker, but a micro-burst of wind hit the yacht, causing a knockdown. Connelly, who had gone forwards during the spinnaker drop, was thrown overboard but tethered, and as the boat righted was lifted back onboard. He reported after: “The safety drills and systems all worked and we could sort ourselves out”

The stormy conditions caused issues across the fleet on the first night. Aboard the Santa Cruz 72 Antipodes crew member Geoff Cropley reported this morning: “We had lightning and thunder for hours. Then there was a major wind shift which auto gybed the boat.

“The spinnaker got wrapped in the drop, along with spinnaker staysail. All the team was up and trying to untwist and get that down. It took us about 40 minutes. We were heading north-east and sailing backwards for a period of time.

“We’re now hunkered down with a reef in the main. There’s little bit of blue sky. It’s quite nice out here.”

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Azzuro, an S&S 34 owned by Jack Kliner, with crew including Jessica Watson, during the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Photo: Rolex/Andrea Francolini

Meanwhile the battle for IRC overall continues. IRC 1 contender Alive , a Reichel Pugh 66 with a talent-packed crew including Gavin Brady, Stu Bannatyne and legendary Australian navigator Adrienne Cahalan, a veteran of 30 Hobart races. Close behind them on the IRC rankings is Hobart grandee, Sean Langman on the Reichel Pugh 69 Moneypenny led IRC 0, while the  S&S 34 Azzurro raced by Jessica Watson  is fastest of the small boats on the current IRC rankings.  

Jessica Watson to skipper youngest ever crew to compete in Rolex Sydney-Hobart yacht race

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

The 17-year-old Queenslander will take the helm of the Sydney 38 class boat Another Challenge on December 26.

Her crew of six other young Australians and three Britons will all be aged 21 or under, making them the youngest ever to compete in the blue water classic, with an average age of 19.

First Jessica Watson must turn 18, the youngest age allowed by the rules, which she will do on May 18.

Is Jessica Watson Australia's most daring young sportsperson? Have your say in our comments box below.

The Young Australian of the Year, who last year became the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world, made the announcement on Thursday at Sydney's Cruising Yacht Club (CYC).

"I am absolutely delighted to be working with such a dynamic and motivated group of young sailors," she said.

Having faced down criticism that her global adventure was too dangerous for such a young sailor, she said she and her crew would take extra care to meet all safety requirements for the 2011 Rolex Sydney-Hobart .

CYC Commodore Gary Linacre said: "It is passionate sailors such as these that are the future of sailing in Australia and we wish them all the best in their training and preparation."

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Jessica Watson reveals tragic reason she's racing in Sydney to Hobart

  •  Jessica Watson will compete in the 2023 Sydney to Hobart
  •  Watson's partner Cam suffered a 'catastrophic' stroke
  •  She's racing to honour his memory and raise awareness

Australian sailor Jessica Watson is returning to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2023 to honour her late boyfriend after he died suddenly after suffering a stroke aged just 29.

Watson faced plenty of challenges when she sailed solo around the world at just 16 years of age, but none of that could compare to the intense grief she felt after Cameron Dale died in 2021.

The pair met in 2011 while Watson skippered the yacht Another Challenge in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and Dale was part of the crew.

They were about to begin working on the filming of the movie 'True Spirit' about Watson's life when Cam suffered a minor stroke.

He then went on to suffer a catastrophic stroke while receiving treatment in the Gold Coast University Hospital, passing away on August 30, 2021.

Watson says Cam will be there in spirit when she sails aboard the yacht Azzuro in this year's famous race to Tasmania. 

'He's always there,' Watson told News Corp .

'I feel like I have Cam in my ear saying, "It's a crazy idea but give it a go".

'It is so important to stay connected [to sailing]. It helps make me so much better.

'He is part of all my sailing.'

The cause of Cam's stroke was high blood pressure, something he did not know he suffered from until he was hit by the tragedy.

Part of the reason why Watson has returned is to raise awareness about the condition.

Through her grief, Watson has relied on sailing to get through, using it as a way to reconnect with Cam after his passing.

'I just love sailing more than ever,' she said.

'Cam passing away made me lean into sailing. I wish everyone did it. 

'There's nothing better than being on the water, and the sailing community is incredible.'

Earlier this year Watson shared a moving tribute to the late love of her life .

She posted candid snap taken in 2019, showing her kissing him on the cheek as the pair ride the New York subway. 

'Did you know hypertension (high blood pressure in plain speak) is the leading risk factor of stroke?' she wrote in her caption.

'Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check is running throughout May and it's World Hypertension Day today, and I'm making the pledge to check my blood pressure. It's actually not something I've asked my doctor to check recently. Of all people, I should know better!

'Please do the same and remind (or better harass, nag, insist!) your mates to - no matter how young and healthy they are.'

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

sydney hobart yacht race jessica watson

Young Australian of the Year 2011 Jessica Watson will skipper the youngest crew to ever compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. After conquering some of the most treacherous oceans to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, Jessica will skipper a crew of 10, all of whom will be 21 or younger - making them the youngest crew ever to compete in the famous race, with an average age of just 19.  Among the young crew is Mike Perham from the UK, another solo circumnavigator.

All the crew have embarked on a 12 week training program that commenced in October in the lead up to the start of the blue water classic, including a dry run from Sydney to Hobart in November. The crew are seeking to be competitive in the Sydney 38OD division and compete for handicap honours, depending on weather patterns. The team have been coached by Chris Lewin, who skippered another Challenge in 4 x Rolex Sydney Hobart’s – most notably in 2004 where he led the (previous) youngest crew of Melbourne Uni students to third place in the Sydney 38 division, and most recently in 2010 where he achieved second in the division by 29 seconds.

Competitor Details

Yacht Name Ella Bache
Sail Number 2004
Owner Chris Lewin
Skipper Jessica Watson
Crew M Perham, L Chamberlain (1), C Dale (2), P Woodward, L Thorne, W Broughton, A Paton, G Warlow, S Lindsell
State NSW
Club RPAYC
Type Sydney 38
Designer Murray, Burns, Dovell
Builder Sydney Yachts
Construction Kevlar/ Vinal
LOA 11.78
Beam 3.65
Draft 2.69

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Shop the official clothing range of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in person at the Club in New South Head Road, Darling Point or online below.  

From casual to technical clothing, there is something for all occasions. Be quick as stock is limited!

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COMMENTS

  1. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    When Azzurro, the 'Little Boat That Could', docked in Hobart this afternoon just before 3.45pm, there was a huge crowd waiting to meet her - or more precisely, one of her crew - Jessica Watson OAM, who had just finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As a 16 year-old, Watson sailed single-handed ...

  2. Jessica Watson Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

    Starts with race leaders Investec and Wild Oats fighting for line honors rounding the most southern tip of Tasman Peninsula. Excitement builds in Hobart with...

  3. Jessica Watson makes waves in fight against stroke

    Jessica Watson makes waves in fight against stroke. Jessica Watson has taken on many epic challenges in her life, but the iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day will be one to remember. The 30-year-old will embark on the voyage alongside the crew of Azzurro who collectively share over 50,000 offshore miles. The former Young Australian ...

  4. Rolex Sydney Hobart: Jessica Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare

    When Azzurro, the 'Little Boat That Could', docked in Hobart this afternoon just before 3.45pm, there was a huge crowd waiting to meet her - or more precisely, one of her crew - Jessica Watson OAM, who had just finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As a 16 year-old, Watson sailed single-handed, nonstop ...

  5. Watson Sails Sydney To Hobart For Special Cause

    Jessica Watson was just 16 when she sailed around the world solo, spending 210 days at sea. On Sunday afternoon, she and the Azzurro crew completed the Sydney to Hobart to the cheers of loved ones acknowledging a cause more important than any record. Watson, now 30 and a former Young Australian of the Year, used the race to raise awareness ...

  6. Jessica Watson Makes Waves in 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with

    RSHYR: Jessica Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare after finishing the 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Watson, known for sailing single-handed around the world at age 16, arrived to a huge crowd and completed her third Sydney-Hobart race, raising awareness for stroke prevention and treatment.

  7. Jessica Watson finishes her first Sydney to Hobart yacht race

    WA News Sport. JESSICA Watson has arrived in Hobart to a hero's welcome after completing her first Sydney to Hobart, with the youngest crew ever to contest the race. Watson's crewmate Will ...

  8. Charting Her Course

    Meeting her partner Cameron while sailing the Sydney to Hobart yacht race meant she was no longer travelling solo and the couple built a life together in Melbourne. But in 2021 tragedy struck and ...

  9. Jessica Watson, 18, finishes 37th in Sydney-Hobart race

    HOBART, Australia -- Teenager Jessica Watson can add the grueling Sydney to Hobart yacht race to her list of sailing accomplishments. The 18-year-old Watson, who last year became the youngest ...

  10. Jessica Watson arrives in Hobart to great fanfare

    When Azzurro, the 'Little Boat That Could', docked in Hobart this afternoon just before 3.45pm, there was a huge crowd waiting to meet her - or more precisely, one of her crew - Jessica Watson OAM, who had just finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As a 16 year-old, Watson sailed single-handed ...

  11. Jessica Watson returns to Sydney to Hobart yacht race 2023 to honour

    Returning to race the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2023 is also a way for Jessica Watson to honour the love of her life Cam Dale and to remember great times they had together at sea.

  12. About

    Jessica was named Young Australian of the Year in 2011 and has gone on to lead various projects, including a team that became the youngest ever to compete in Australia's notorious Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The project saw the youth crew finish second in their division, and Jessica was awarded the Jane Tate trophy for the first female skipper.

  13. Rolex Sydney Hobart Race winner decided by 51 seconds

    Azzuro, an S&S 34 owned by Jack Kliner, with crew including Jessica Watson, during the 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Photo: Rolex/Andrea Francolini Meanwhile the battle for IRC overall continues.

  14. Jessica Watson to skipper youngest ever crew to compete in Rolex Sydney

    Round-the-world sailor Jessica Watson will skipper the youngest crew ever to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. The 17-year-old Queenslander will take the helm of the Sydney 38 class ...

  15. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    Round the World solo Yachtswoman Jessica Watson joins the crew from Queensland for this year's trip south. Jack and the crew are aiming to extend Azzurro's successful race pedigree and push the boat to new heights at the 2023 RSHYR. However, the Azzurro crew's mission extends beyond the pursuit of on water victory; the crew is dedicated ...

  16. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    Round the world yachtswoman Jessica Watson and her crew of "juniors" aboard the Sydney 38 Ella Baché crossed the finish line in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at 3.12pm today - the youngest-ever crew to compete in the race - all are under 21.

  17. Jessica Watson reveals tragic reason she's racing in Sydney to Hobart

    List of Partners (vendors) Australian sailor Jessica Watson is returning to race the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2023 after first finding fame when she sailed solo around the world aged just 16.

  18. Jessica Watson Enters Sydney-Hobart Race

    Turning 18 has its perks: the ability to vote, open a bank account and purchase lottery tickets, to name a few. But to Jessica Watson, named Young Australian of the Year in 2010 for being the youngest person to (unofficially) complete a nonstop and unassisted solo circumnavigation of the world, turning 18 meant something entirely different: the ability to enter the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

  19. Zhik partner with Jessica Watson, Xavier Doerr and multiple teams in

    Zhik, the gamechanging techical clothing brand, have partnered with crews on Azzuro, LawConnect, URM, Making Waves and Navy One in the Sydney Hobart race, launching at 13.00hrs on December 26th. Star sailor Jessica Watson, Xavier Doerr and crews across the fleet will wear Zhik clothing, refined over two decades at the highest level of racing to ...

  20. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

    Ella Bache. Young Australian of the Year 2011 Jessica Watson will skipper the youngest crew to ever compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. After conquering some of the most treacherous oceans to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, Jessica will skipper a crew of 10, all of whom will be 21 or younger ...

  21. Rolex Sydney Hobart- Images of Jessica Watson's finish

    On a classic Derwent river aftrenoon, with the sun shinimg and a stong southerly pushing a large group of boats to the finish line under spinnaker, 18 year old Jessica Watson and her young team aboard Ella Bache crossed the line in fine style, finishing second in the Sydney 38 division, within sight of the winning boat TSA Management and well ahead of her coach Chris Lewin's boat Deloitte As One.

  22. Sydney to Hobart yacht race middle to small boats in for a pounding

    She set sail in light winds, farewelled by a huge spectator flotilla but Jessica Watson knows she's in for a big bash in Bass Strait in the 78th Sydney to Hobart - and she's OK with that.

  23. Jessica Watson

    Jessica Watson OAM (born 18 May 1993) is an Australian sailor who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal after attempting a solo circumnavigation at the age of 16. Although her voyage did not meet the distance criterion of 21,600 nautical miles (40,000 km) for a circumnavigation, Watson was nevertheless named the 2011 Young Australian of the Year and awarded the Medal of the Order of ...