Teenage sailor Jessica Watson named Young Australian of the Year

09:44, January 26, 2011      

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Accomplished schoolgirl sailor Jessica Watson on Tuesday was named 2011 Young Australian of the Year.

The then 16-year-old girl, battled fierce storms and loneliness at sea, become the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world in 210 days.

Her controversial journey at first attracted criticism and she faced calls to abandon the trip after colliding with a bulk carrier off the south-east Queensland coast.

She sailed into Sydney Harbor to a hero's welcome on May 15 last year, having finally completed a 23,000 nautical mile-journey with seven months after setting off.

Before the journey, many questioned Watson's ability and maturity and whether her parents were doing the right thing in letting their daughter go.

But condemnation quickly become admiration as she pushed on, undeterred by the media attention surrounding her.

The National Australia Day Council played tribute to the teenager's maturity and dignity after naming her Young Australian of the Year at a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.

"From the age of 12, Jessica Watson dreamt of sailing solo, unassisted, non-stop around the world, and at the age of 16, she made it happen," the council told reporters in Canberra.

"Her voyage has inspired thousands of people of all ages, and has shown that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve what may at first seem impossible."

The Queensland teenager has since published a book about her travels in her sloop, Ella's Pink Lady.

Source: Xinhua
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