Jessica Watson had the whole of Australia behind her when she sailed into Sydney after 210 days of voyaging around the world solo.
The then 16-year-old, on-board her Ella’s Pink Lady yacht, charging down the home stretch into Sydney Harbour to a crowd of thousands, after completing her solo circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere, in May 2010.
And now, Watson’s voyage is set to be chronicled in an upcoming Netflix feature film. The movie will be produced by film production company Sunstar Entertainment, based on Sydney’s northern beaches, which also assisted in the production of the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Lion, starring Nicole Kidman.
At this stage there’s no news on who will play Watson in the titular role.
Jessica Watson left on her journey on October 18 2009, where she headed northeast, crossed the equator in the Pacific Ocean before crossing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and returned on May 15 2010, just three days shy of her 17th birthday.
Watson had been planning to complete a solo non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation since at least early 2008. Officially announced in May 2009, the journey was expected to take eight months with an estimated distance of 23,000 nautical miles. To fulfill the plan of sailing non-stop and unassisted, during the journey no other person would be allowed to give her anything and she must not moor to any port or other boat, although advice over radio communication would be permitted.
Watson’s planned circumnavigation route was to start and end at Sydney and to pass near New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and South East Cape. In accordance with the definitions for circumnavigations set out by the International Sailing Federation’s WSSRC, the equator must be crossed – this crossing was carried out near Kiritimati. However, the WSSRC criteria also stipulate that a global circumnavigation must have an orthodromic distance of 21,600 nautical miles – Watson’s journey did not meet this requirement.
Watson arrived back in Sydney Harbour at 1:53 pm, Saturday 15 May 2010.
The Los Angeles Times reported Watson’s reason for her journey: “I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something to be proud of. And yes, I wanted to inspire people. I hated being judged by my appearance and other people’s expectations of what a ‘little girl’ was capable of. It’s no longer just my dream or voyage. Every milestone out here isn’t just my achievement, but an achievement for everyone who has put so much time and effort into helping getting me here.“
Watson wrote a book about her experience, True Spirit published by Hachette Australia. The book was released 29 July 2010.