Defying criticism from those who said her task was destined to fail, after 210 days at sea navigating some of the world’s most challenging oceans and surviving seven knockdowns, Jessica sailed back into Sydney Harbour on 15 May 2010. She became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world, aged 16.
As she docked at the Sydney Opera House she met the Prime Minister on stage and then delivered a simple, but inspirational speech where she replied to the Prime Minister who declared her to be an Australian hero:
“I would like to disagree with our Prime Minister. I do not consider myself a hero. I am just an ordinary person, who had a dream and worked hard at it. By sailing solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, I have proved that anything really is possible”.
Jessica had captured the hearts of not only Australians but millions of supporters around the globe as they cheered on the 16-year-old Aussie, who had overcome the adversity and odds to achieve what many thought impossible.
Sharing her experiences on her blog, she became a storyteller, and her fan base grew to the extent of having 5 million hits on her website when she sailed into Sydney.
Jessica’s book about the voyage “True Spirit” quickly became an Australian bestseller and has been published in 12 countries – another extraordinary achievement for a girl who suffers from dyslexia.
Jessica filmed a documentary, 210 Days, which was narrated by Sir Richard Branson. And the producers of Oscar-nominated movie Lion are currently working on a working on a film adaption of Jessica’s story.
She was named Young Australian of the Year 2011. In December that year, Jessica skippered the youngest crew ever to compete in the iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Her crew finished second in their division, and Jessica was awarded the Jane Tate trophy for the first female skipper.
In January 2012, Jessica was announced in the Australia Day Honours list, receiving an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for services to sailing and being a role model for the youth of Australia.
Now aged 23, Jessica is the co-founder of a startup company and a Youth Ambassador for The United Nations World Food Programme. She has just completed an MBA and her second book titled Indigo Blue, a novel for young adults, was published by Hachette in February 2018.
Sunstar are currently developing a film adaption of Jessica’s amazing story, scheduled to commence production in late 2018.
Jessica is available as a motivational speaker. More details here; https://www.jessicawatson.com.au/speaking
Awards / Achievements
Young Australian of the Year 2011.
Young Performer of the Year 2010.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF)
“Spirit of Sport” inductee.
Australian Geographic Society’s 2010.
Young Adventurer Of The Year.
Yachting Australia’s Youth Sailor of the Year 2010.
Australia’s Favourite Event 2010.
Jessica’s Arrival Into Sydney Harbour on 15th of May 2010.
Jane Tate Trophy 2011 Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
Order of Australia medal (OAM) 2012.
“Jessica was prepared to face her knockers and unafraid to get back and have another go when all of the odds were against her, It had been her dream since she was a young child and she made good on that dream.”
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.