Thursday, October 15, 2009
Should We Applaud Miss Watson?
When 16 year-old Jessica Watson begins her second attempt at becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, non stop and unassisted later this week, she will do so against a squall of opposition.
There is no greater sporting challenge on the planet than a successful solo circumnavigation.
Freak waves, collisions with oil tankers and cargo ships, striking whales and icebergs in the Southern Ocean, piracy, boat breakdowns, snapped masts in horrific conditions, failed radio communications thousands of miles from land and just plain sheer fatigue and loneliness can and regularly do plague all sailors.
Those challenges exist regardless of age and experience.
More people have stood atop Mount Everest, and indeed, more have made it into space than those who have successfully completed a solo circumnavigation.
The fatality rate of such a sailing attempt is also greater than either of the above pursuits. More people have died attempting a solo circumnavigation than in any other sporting challenge.