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. In doing so, she became the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, aged just 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 had just declared Jessica to be Australia's newest 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 back into Sydney.
Jessica’s book about the voyage “True Spirit” quickly became an Australian #1 bestseller and has now been published in 16 countries – another extraordinary achievement for a girl who suffers from dyslexia.
Jessica filmed a documentary, 210 Days, which was narrated by Sir Richard Branson.
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.
In recent years, Jessica became a co-founder of a start-up company Deckee, an ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and completed an MBA. She also wrote a second book titled Indigo Blue, a fiction novel for young adults, which was published by Hachette in February, 2018.
In 2022, Jessica was inducted into Sailing Australia's Hall of Fame.
True Spirit, a film adaption of Jessica’s amazing story was released on Netflix, on 3 February 2023, with amazing success. In the first 2 weeks of its release, True Spirit went to number 2 movie in the world on Netflix, with over 30 million viewing hours in the first two weeks of release!
Jessica is currently a management consultant within Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice.
Jessica is available as an inspirational/motivational speaker. More details here; https://www.jessicawatson.com.au/speaking
Awards / Achievements
Young Australian of the Year 2011.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame “Spirit of Sport” inductee
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.