Teenage Australian solo sailor crashes into ship

Wed Sep 9, 2009 1:56am EDT
 
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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Crashing a tiny yacht into a massive bulk carrier would seem to be more than just a setback to most people, but not to an Australian teen-ager seeking to become the youngest woman to sail solo around the world.

Jessica Watson, 16, was conducting sea trials in her 10-meter (32 foot) yacht when the collision with the ship occurred in the early hours of Wednesday on her first night at sea.

"The whole incident gives me confidence -- wow, I can actually handle this," Watson told reporters. "It could have happened to anyone. I'm unlucky I suppose, but you also learn from it."

The mast and deck of Watson's pink-hulled yacht were damaged but she made it safely back to land.

Investigations were underway to determine why the bulk carrier did not stop, maritime authorities said, but it appeared likely the massive ship had not even seen Watson's tiny boat.

Watson was on her south from northern Queensland state to Sydney when the accident happened. She plans to start her bid to sail 23,000 nautical miles around the world from Sydney.

Her record attempt follows concerns in the Netherlands, where a court last month intervened to stop a 13-year-old girl from attempting to sail solo around the world, placing the girl temporarily under state supervision.

In late August, 17-year-old Briton Mike Perham set a record as the youngest person to sail solo around the globe after he spent nine months at sea.

In July, 17-year-old U.S. sailor Zac Sunderland arrived in Southern California to complete a grueling 13-month solo circumnavigation.   Continued...