Jessica Watson of Australia made it around the world on her own in her yacht, the Pink Lady. Jessica and her parents had to endure lots of criticism ahead of the journey by people who thought she was too young for the journey.
|"People don't think you're capable of these things they don't realize what young people, what 16-year-olds and girls are capable of," Watson told the raucous crowd. "It's amazing when you take away those expectations what you can do."
Watson, from Buderim, north of Brisbane in Queensland state, sailed out of Sydney on Oct. 18 despite protests by critics that she was too immature and inexperienced for the treacherous journey. Her parents maintained that she was well-prepared and noted she has been sailing since the age of 8.
"I don't think any of us would ever doubt Jessica Watson again," said New South Wales state Premier Kristina Keneally, who greeted Watson at the Opera House.
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.
Australian Jesse Martin holds the current 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.
Martin boarded Watson's boat to take over during her cruise toward the Opera House, so she could relax and wave to fans. Watson was given a goodie bag that included a can of whipped cream, which she partially injected into her mouth before laughing and turning away from the cameras.
She was also joined on board by Britain's Mike Perham, who completed a solo circumnavigation at the age of 17 in 2009, though technical problems forced him to stop for assistance.
Watson's feat, however, will not be considered an official world record, because the World Speed Sailing Record Council discontinued its "youngest" category.