Is Jessica Watson youngest person to sail solo around world? Here's the true story of teen's journey
LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA: Jessica Watson is back in the news as her biopic 'True Spirit' was released on Netflix on Friday, February 3. The Netflix film tells the story of a young girl who attempts to sail 23,000 nautical miles around the globe in eight months.
Although Watson traveled 18,582 nautical miles, crossing the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, all by herself and without stopping, Jessica did not make it into the world records. The youngest person ever to sail solo around the world is Laura Dekker, as reported by Sailing Today.
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Who is Laura Dekker?
Laura Dekker was only fifteen years old when she set out from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean on January 20, 2011, to circumnavigate the globe alone. When she returned to Sint Maarten, she was sixteen years old. She still holds the record as the youngest circumnavigator. She was born in Whangarei, New Zealand. She made her first solo long-distance voyage from the Ijsselmeer to the Wadden Islands at the age of 10 as per Yatching Monthly. Laura is also the author of the book 'One Girl One Dream,' which has been published in four languages, including Dutch, English, German and Polish.
Why Jessica is not the youngest person to sail solo around world
According to the World Speed Sailing Record Council, there is a rule for circumnavigation records. The rule states that "the length must be at least 21,600 nautical miles, calculated along the shortest possible track from the starting port and back, that does not cross land and does not go below 63 degrees. The equator must be crossed during the journey." Although Watson has traveled about 23,000 nautical miles according to the great circle calculations of several Australian navigators, she has traveled an orthodromic distance of 18,265 nautical miles. This data shows that she was 2,335 nautical miles away from circumnavigating the entire globe, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Does 'True Spirit' detail the controversy of records?
"The movie and what Jess is all about is not about the record," said Teagan Croft. "That's not what drove her. That's not what she was sailing for. She was sailing for the love of it. The point of the movie is about this girl who had a goal that was crazy and dangerous, and what she did was incredible." Meanwhile, Jessica says about the controversy as per Entertainment Weekly, "The thing is, it's a bit of an invented controversy because there actually is no record. There's no 'youngest' record because the body that does official sailing records doesn't recognize the youngest records, which is understandable. So I don't really understand how there can be controversy over a record that doesn't exist. The voyage and the way I sailed around the world was very similar to what other people did, but there's actually no official rules, so it's a bit hard to not comply with rules that don't quite exist." She further added, "It really doesn't worry me because it was about the adventure," she adds. "But also, gosh, people really feel the need to add some drama or find a way to almost diminish it slightly. And I'm like, 'Cool, you guys do that. I'm cool with that.' Maybe I think about it too simplistically, but I'm just like, 'Why are we arguing about the number of nautical miles for a record that doesn't exist?' There is no set nautical miles. You can't argue over a rule that doesn't exist."