Cape Horn Dead Ahead – Jessica Watson Update

It was back in November, the 23rd to be precise, when I took a look at Jessica Watson’s attempt to become the youngest solo round the world sailor. (The original, Jessica Watson: The First Leg Complete can be read here)

At that point, Jessica had just crossed the equator near Kiribati and was turning her bows south, toward the “Everest” of ocean sailing, Cape Horn. Much had been made of Jessica’s accident during a shake down trip after she crashed into a ship on her first night by commentators in the media. Her parents came in for strident criticism too, being accused, among other things, of being utterly negligent in allowing their daughter to set off on her trip.

As I reported in the original post, the Australian press (with the notable exception of The 7pm Project) have remained unsure of how to approach the story. I imagine they feel that should they be too effusive in their support and Jessica comes to grief, it would damage their reputation. Conversely, should they ignore the story, competitors may well get a jump on them and surf the feel-good story of the “Little Aussie Battler” all the way to the bank.

It resulted in a strange, almost morbid, silence surrounding the story.

But all that is about to change. Long before Jessica’s voyage began the legendary Cape Horn was the rocky spur of land most fingers were pointed at. It’s ferocious storms, huge waves and frigid conditions were bound to defeat the teenager, it shouldn’t be legal, it’s a sailor’s graveyard etc etc…

Well, Jessica is now within a few miles of “The Horn” and has had almost ideal conditions (given the Cape’s reputation). Her parents are being flown from Punta Arenas over her rounding in order to wave at her, and the Argentinian Navy is sending out escort vessels in her honour.

There is no reason to expect the rest of the trip to be risk or problem free but, with the Cape behind her, Jessica has passed a considerable physical and psychological barrier.

That may be the case with the Australian press too. With fewer risks ahead, they may just decide their unswerving support is more in their interests rather than their ghoulish silence. I’ll be looking for the most over the top examples and will bring them to you as soon as they occur.

Jessica’s blog can be found here – unsurprisingly, it’s the most widely read in Australia.

Additional Update: Here’s Jessica’s photo of the Cape from her blog. Great work! Keep it up!

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