Jessica: Sydney to Hobart is next

JESSICA Watson has confirmed she will race in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and will skipper the youngest crew to ever compete in the iconic event.

Jessica announced the project, titled “Another Challenge”, at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in front of a large media contingent. The event was hosted by Alan Jones AO.

After conquering some of the most treacherous oceans to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, this next challenge will see Jessica skipper a crew of 10, all of whom will be 21 or younger - making them the youngest crew ever to compete in the famous race, with an average age of just 19.

The minimum age to compete in the event is 18 and Jessica will reach this landmark on 18 May - in just over three months time.

“I am so excited to announce this project today. It has been a busy process selecting our crew, but I am absolutely delighted to be working with such a dynamic and motivated group of young sailors,” said Jessica.

“We have just spent a week training together in Melbourne and getting to know each other and everyone has bonded so well.”

Jessica wants to inspire other youth around Australia, to strive to achieve. It is a unique opportunity for these 10 individuals.

Jessica has chosen the boat, aptly named another Challenge, a Sydney 38, which will again be painted in her trademark pink, which will be sure to stand out on the Harbour come race day.

The project is a massive undertaking that will provide many challenges for Jessica & her crew. They will gather together again in Sydney in October to embark on an intensive 12 week campaign leading up to the event. The crew seek to be competitive in the Sydney 38 OD division and compete for handicap honours, depending on weather patterns.

Another famous young name joining the crew is Mike Perham from the UK, another solo circumnavigator.

The team will be coached by Chris Lewin, who has skippered another Challenge in 4 x Rolex Sydney Hobart’s – most notably in 2004 where he led the (previous) youngest crew of Melbourne Uni students to a 3rd in the Sydney 38 division, and most recently in 2010 where he achieved 2nd in the division by 29 seconds.

Gary Linacre, Commodore of the The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), the host of the iconic race, was delighted to offer Jessica and her crew his support.

“We look forward to Jessica participation in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, Garry Linacre, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the race organising authority said.

Jessica has been able to bring together a talented and committed crew that includes Alex Paton, an active member of the CYCA’s Youth Sailing Academy. It is passionate sailors such as these that are the future of sailing in Australia and we wish them all the best in their training and preparation for Australia’s most iconic yacht race, which commences at 1pm on Boxing Day.”

What do you think about Jessica's announcement? Leave your comment below ...

Jessica's crew:

Michael Perham (19), Peter Woodward (21), Will Broughton (19), Cameron Dale (20), Leigh Thorne (21), Alexandra Paton (20), Levi Curtis (18), Sean Lindsell (21), Genevieve Warlow (19).

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