Jessica Watson, the official sailing ambassador for Queensland, arrived in the Whitsundays on Wednesday to compete in Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week. The race week is part of Tourism Queensland’s Season of Sailing campaign which promotes the key sailing events along Queensland’s coast.
Familiar territory for Jessica Watson today, sailing onboard an S&S 34 Constellation
She has already inspired over 900 local students with tales of her solo voyage around the world and given one huge fan the opportunity for a private sailing lesson.
Jessica gave an inspirational talk to Year 8 – Year 12 students at Proserpine State High School and spoke about goals and challenges including the disastrous start to her solo voyage when she hit a ship on the first night of a sea trial. Jessica said, 'that terrible experience on the first day was actually good for me and made me much stronger'. Jessica was invited to the school to talk to the students about what can be achieved if you set clear goals and put in the hard yards.
Proserpine State High School Guidance Counsellor Sharon Rudinski said 'when I heard Jessica was coming for Airlie Beach Race Week I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity if she could address the students at the start of our Career Expo week.'
Last night at the opening of Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week Jessica also drew the lucky winner from the 'Win a Private Sailing lesson with Jessica' competition. The winning entry was 10 year old Hamish Swain, a member of the Whitsunday Sailing Club and the current under 10 Australian Optimist Sailing Champion and the current 10 year old Queensland State Optimist Champion.
Hamish was enthralled watching Jessica Watson on TV after her return from her solo voyage and is not only inspired by Jessica to sail solo around the world but wants to be the best sailor in the world. He has been following the Australian Olympic sailing team avidly and was desperate to win the competition with Jessica.
When his mother Ali Swain called to tell him he had won he screamed, 'are you for real!' Yes she is and Hamish will get his very own private lesson with Jessica at 4pm on Monday 13 August at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Jess will also be available from 3pm to have a chat with the local community and talk about her sailing experiences.
For more information go to whitsundaysailingclub.com.au, airliebeachraceweek.com.au or queensland.com/sailing.