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Celebrity Spotlight: Jessica Watson
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 1 -January/February 2013

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How did you first become interested in sailing?

I first started sailing aged 8, when my Mum took my brother, sister and I along to the local sailing club. Believe it or not when I first started sailing I was terrified of it. It wasn't until I got more confident out on the water that I really started enjoying it.

How old were you when you decided to sail solo non-stop around the world?

When I was 11 Mum read me a bed time story about a young guy who sailed around the world (Jesse Martin) and through his story I realised that Jesse was just an ordinary guy who did something amazing.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration and why?

I'm inspired by anyone, whether or not they're famous, by people who stand up and give something a go.

In your book, you wrote about spending much of your childhood on a houseboat with your family, how did this experience shape your love of water and sailing?

Growing up on a motor boat with my family was a really special experience, spending so much time exploring deserted beaches, islands and reefs gave me a great sense of adventure.

What steps did you take to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare yourself for the trip?

Preparing for the voyage took years and years, I did miles and miles of sailing (as many as it took to sail around the world!), learnt to fix every part of Ella's Pink Lady, first aid, storm survival and navigating by the stars.

During your solo journey, how did you stay motivated and focused on the task at hand?

Always staying positive was so important when the going got hard, knowing so many people where thinking of me back home helped.

How did you manage to stay on top of your school work while away?

All my school work came with me but I have to admit I got I little behind so when I got back I had a lot of catching up to do!

Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?

My favorite holiday destination is North Queensland; it's such a great place to go for a nice cruise sail!

What are your hobbies?

I still love sailing whenever I get the spare time but I also love just catching up and hanging out with my family and friends.

Please tell us about your involvement as a Youth Representative for the UN's World Food Programme.

I'm very proud to be a representative for the UN's World Food Programme. They do some amazing work ensuring that kids in less fortunate parts of the world get the food and nutrition they need to be able to concentrate at school. Can you imagine trying to get your school work done on an empty stomach? I couldn't do it! I'm so lucky to have had all my dreams come true so it's nice to able to help other kids achieve their dreams!

You have sailed around the world, written a book, released a documentary and competed on Dancing with the Stars, what is next for Jessica Watson?

It's been such a busy few years so right now I'm enjoying being slightly less busy while I get some University study done. And next year life's going to get busy again as my book is being turned into a movie! It's very exciting and a little strange to have a movie made about my life!

What are 5 tips you would give to aspiring sailors?

  1. It's all about preparation, check the weather forecast & that your boat is properly set up.
  2. Lots of sunscreen, sunglasses & a hat are essential.
  3. Being able to find the wind direction is critical. The easiest way to do this is to turn your head till you can feel the wind on both your ears, & then you'll know that your nose is pointing straight at the wind direction.
  4. If you're just starting out & aren't feeling too confident, don't go out on windy days; wait till you feel that you can handle the stronger conditions.
  5. The most important thing of all in to remember to enjoy it! Particularly while you're learning, there's plenty of time to get serious later on.

About Jessica Watson

On 18 October 2009, Jessica Watson departed Sydney, aiming to achieve her dream and become the youngest ever to sail solo, non-stop, and unassisted around the world. During the journey no other person would be allowed to give
her anything and she must not moor to any port or other boat.

Nearly seven months later, on 15 May, 2010, after not seeing another person for seven months and having viewed land in the distance on only three occasions during that time, Jessica was greeted by 1,600 support boats and over 100,000 adoring fans on the Sydney Harbour foreshores waiting for her to cross the finish line.

Jessica Watson's story is an inspiring one that ultimately proves that we all have the power to live our dreams - no matter how small or big they are.
In January, she was awarded the prestigious honour of 2011 Young Australian of the Year.

Jessica recently skippered the youngest crew ever to compete in the 66 year history of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December 2011, aboard Ella Bache Another Challenge. The crew boasted an average age of just 19. Jessica won the Jane Tate Trophy for first female skipper to finish and the crew finished 37th overall, recording an incredible 2nd place result in the highly competitive Sydney 38 Division!

In January 2012, Jessica was named in the Australia Day Honours list, being awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM), for her services to sailing, youth and being a role model for young Australians.

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Jessica Watson - Get Ahead Kids

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Get Ahead Kids® Jan/Feb 2013

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