Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Record-chasing teenage sailor rounds Cape Horn

AFP , SYDNEY

An Australian schoolgirl bidding to become the youngest solo round-the-world sailor rounded South America’s challenging Cape Horn, her supporters said yesterday, nearing the halfway point of her journey.

Jessica Watson “has now done almost 10,000 [nautical] miles [18,520km] and she has rounded Cape Horn in difficult conditions — about 40 knot winds and swells of up to 6m,” Watson’s spokesman Andrew Fraser told the AAP newswire.

Watson, 16, left Sydney on her ambitious circumnavigation bid 88 days ago, and rounded the Horn, South America’s southernmost point, at 9:40am GMT on Wednesday, Fraser said.

Fraser said it was the maritime equivalent of conquering Mount Everest, and Watson was almost 10,000 nautical miles into her 23,000 nautical mile journey, which began on Oct. 18.

She hopes to complete the trip in eight months, attempting to break the record set by fellow Australian Jesse Martin, then aged 18, in 1999.

Her parents were planning to fly over her bright pink 10m (33 foot) yacht Ella’s Pink Lady to speak with her by radio.

The teenager said she was also expecting a visit from the Chilean and Argentinian navies as she headed northeast toward the Falkland Islands.

“It’s been over a month since I’ve seen another boat and almost three months since I’ve seen another person, so I feel totally thrilled and spoiled to have so many guests all at once,” Watson wrote on her blog.

“I was extra careful brushing my hair this morning, which is of course completely pointless in this wind,” she joked.

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