Young women of the high seas!

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I’ve been vaguely keeping an eye on the progress of Jessica Watson; the teenager that is currently sailing solo around the world. If she completes the trip she will be the youngest person in the world! to have completed the journey.

It gives me a little buzz every time I hear about her attempt; there was a little bit of fuss when she set out because she’s so young, and, I suspect, because she’s a woman. I think that it’s so unusual to hear about a young woman doing such a courageous, dangerous and extraordinary thing.

In 2000 I drove across Australia, on my own. It took me a year and a half. I worked in a roadhouse for 6 months and the rest of the time I was camping by the roadside and in beautifully desolate national parks. I was 25 years old. The reaction that I got from people when I told them that I, a fully grown woman, was travelling alone was phenomenal. People thought it was great but they found it shocking. So, I know first hand how people react to women who do adventures alone.

I was quite disappointed by the way the media are currently framing this story. The young woman, Abigail Sunderland, who is also about to sail around the world is being framed as Jessica Watson’s rival, when instead, they have both publicly championed one another. Abigail said of Jessica,

“She’s done an amazing job and I hope the rest of her trip goes as well as it has so far”

 and on Jessica writes on her blog, 

Congratulations times a million to Abby Sunderland for departing on her voyage last Saturday, I know what a challenge it is, just to get to the start line. Despite the fact that there seems to be a lot of adults determined to see Abby and I pitted against each other as rivals, I only wish her the best of luck and am totally thrilled that there’s another girl going for the record!

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That doesn’t sound like rivalry and challenge to me; more like good-natured sportswomanship

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