Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Teenage skipper and round the world yachtswoman Jessica Watson and her crew of 'juniors' aboard the Sydney 38 Ella Baché crossed the finish line at 3.12pm today - the youngest crew ever to compete in the 66 year history of the iconic race - all are under 21.
Not only were they the youngest ever crew in the hands of one of the youngest skippers in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race ever, but they finished second in the highly competitive eight-boat Sydney 38 One-Design division and ahead of their coach Chris Lewin aboard Deloitte as One.
In the final chapter of their race, Ella Baché beat another Sydney 38, Bruce Foye’s Australian champion, The Goat, by just four minutes.
The prize for Watson, who finished sailing the world solo, non-stop and unassisted in a voyage that ended in May 2010, was to be ungraciously picked up by fellow crew member Will Broughton and the two of them plunged into the waters of Kings Pier Marina in Hobart. It was hardly respectful treatment for the 2011 Young Australian of the Year.
A huge crowd of onlookers had cheered Ella Baché to her marina berth - a crowd so large that officials sealed off the marina for her arrival. That reception has given her the taste for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the intense competition between similar boats.
'It was awesome, really awesome,' Watson said. 'It was close, the whole way with the Sydney 38s. That made for a really exciting sail.
'It was really good. I think it was a really good experience,' she enthused.
Watson claimed no credit for Ella Bache’s 37th place across the line in the remaining fleet of 77, second in the Sydney 38’s and 30th overall on corrected time. She said it was all down to the crew.
'It was just absolutely amazing - they sailed incredibly - everyone did an amazing job. All the credit goes to them – honestly - I just hung on for the ride,' she said.
'Over the past year it has been a lot of hard work.'
Asked what she might be expected to do next in her life, she took it literally and said: 'I really want to eat and dry off a little. The next couple of days are about celebrating a lot of hard work. It’s been over a year, this project, and for three months it’s been very hard work training.'
Another Rolex Sydney Hobart is now on the cards.
'It’s definitely something I'd love to be doing again,' Watson said. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website