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article image16-yr-old Australian completes solo non-stop round-the-world sail

By Sharon Davis     May 15, 2010 in Sports
On May 15th, Jessica Watson sailed her pink yacht into Sydney Harbour to complete her seven-month adventure, sailing solo, non-stop, and unassisted around the world - becoming the youngest person to achieve this feat.
Associated Press (AP) reports that thousands of spectators cheered Watson on as she entered the harbour.
"She said she'd sail around the world, and she has," a tearful Julie Watson said as she watched her grinning daughter cruise past the finish line from a nearby boat. "She's home."
AP reports that the young sailor battled 12 metre waves, homesickness and critics who said she'd never make it home alive.
The teenager burst into tears and gasped in relief as she stepped off the yacht and into the arms of her parents, whose decision to let their daughter attempt the feat was called an act of insanity by critics.
Watson, from Buderim, north of Brisbane in Queensland state, Australia, has been sailing since the age of 8. She set off on her journey, leaving Sydney Harbour on October 18th, last year.
AP reports that Watson's journey took her northeast through the South Pacific and across the equator, south to Cape Horn at the tip of South America, across the Atlantic Ocean to South Africa, through the Indian Ocean and around southern Australia.
Another Australian, Jesse Martin, holds the previous record for the youngest person to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted, after he completed the journey in 1999 at the age of 18. Watson's world circumnavigation will not be considered an official world record, because the World Speed Sailing Record Council discontinued its "youngest" category, reports AP.
And though she sailed nearly 23,000 nautical miles, some sailing enthusiasts have also argued that Watson didn't travel far enough north of the equator for her journey to count as a true round-the-world sail as defined by the record council's rules. Watson's managers have dismissed those claims and argued she doesn't need to adhere to the council's rules anyway, since they won't be recognizing her voyage.
The route took Watson through some of the world's most treacherous waters, and the teen battled through monstrous storms, suffering seven knockdowns.
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