Ten years ago, the nation watched as 16-year-old Jessica Watson set sail around the world in her bright pink yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady.
After 210 days alone at sea, Jessica sailed back into Sydney Harbour a national hero and the youngest person to complete a solo, unassisted and non-stop trip around the world.
“It really was such a special and unique time,” Jessica told Mamamia.
“There are still some parts that still remain incredibly vivid to this day and I really do treasure those memories.”
Watch 16-year-old Jessica Watson set sail for her round-the-world voyage in October 2009. Post continues after video.
A decade on, her voyage remains an inspirational moment in Australian history, particularly for young women and girls. But it didn’t come without criticism.
“I do very much understand where people were coming from… the whole story wasn’t necessarily told and people didn’t know about the preparations.
“But at the same time, there’s so much criticism out there and everyone is quick to be a critic and I’m kind of okay with that.”
Jessica went on to be named Young Australian of the Year in 2011 for the bravery she showed during her solo voyage. But Jessica said she was far from brave when she was young.
“I think what people don’t necessarily realise or think of me is that I was quite a timid kid. Even when I decided to sail around the world, I was very fearful. It was actually the fact that I had this goal and wanted to do this, that I realised, well if I’m going to do this, I have to change,” she said.
“In so many ways it [the voyage] feels like an age ago because so many things have happened during the years and I’ve changed so much.”
Now 26, Jessica has continued to make waves outside of the sailing world, having written two books, volunteered at refugee camps and even helped launch a boating app, Deckee.
Here’s what Jessica has been up to since the voyage.
She’s still sailing, but not solo.
Ten years on, Jessica still loves sailing, only now she says it’s more of a hobby.
“I think people think I take it [sailing] quite seriously but really my favourite thing to do is to get out and have a bit of fun.”