AADA Convention and Expo
Melbourne | 24-25 July 2024
At age 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world.
Defying criticism from those who said her task was destined to fail, after 210 days at sea navigating some of the world’s most challenging stretches of oceans and surviving seven knockdowns, Jessica sailed back into Sydney Harbour on 15 May, 2010.
As she docked at the Sydney Opera House, the country wept with pride. She walked up the pink welcome carpet, met the Prime Minister on stage and then delivered what many believe is one of the most simple, but brilliant, inspirational speeches of all time where she replied to the Prime Minister’s summary of her as our newest Australian hero:
“I would like to disagree with our Prime Minister. I do not consider myself a hero. I am just an ordinary person, who had a dream and worked hard at it. By sailing solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, I have proved that anything really is possible”.
She had captured the hearts of not only Australians, but millions of supporters around the globe as they cheered on the 16 year old Aussie, who had overcome the adversity and odds to achieve what many thought impossible.
Within 3 months of her return, Jessica finished writing her book called “True Spirit” which told the story of her epic voyage. The book went straight to number 1 in Australia and has been published in 17 countries – another extraordinary achievement from the girl who suffers badly from dyslexia!
Jessica also filmed a documentary, 210 Days, which was narrated by Sir Richard Branson.
She was named Young Australian of the Year 2011.
In December, 2011, Jessica skippered the youngest crew ever to compete in the iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race, finishing second in their category.
In January 2012, Jessica was announced in the Australia Day Honours list, receiving an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for services to sailing and being a role model for the youth of Australia.
In 2022, Jessica was inducted into Australian Sailing’s Hall of Fame. Now aged 29, Jessica is the co-founder of marine start-up and has completed an MBA, authored a second book – a middle-grade novel titled Indigo Blue – is an in-demand corporate speaker and a management consultant within Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice.
True Spirit, a film adaptation of her incredible story based on her best selling book, was released by Netflix in February 2023. True Spirit went to number 2 movie in the world on Netflix, with over 30 million viewing hours in the first 10 days of its release.
Jessica Watson – she is an inspiring story that ultimately proves that we all have the power to live our dreams – no matter how small or big they are!