It was only last year that Jessica Watson entered the history books after being named the world’s youngest solo-sailor.
But now the 2011 winner of the Young Australian of the Year award has embarked on another open sea voyage.
The 18-year-old is skippering one of the youngest crews to ever take part in the Sydney-to-Hobart race on Sydney 38 boat Ella Bache Another Challenge.
The team has nine additional members – six men and three women – with an average age of 19 years.
Despite being young Watson believes they have enough experience and will be able to compete alongside the nation's best sailors.
However, she was also quick to point out that the regatta represented a number of ‘firsts’ and she was not used to travelling at speed – indicating that her participation in the race was also about learning new skills.
Watson said the journey along the East Coast of Australia represented “a new kind of sailing” and suggested that speed may not be her strong point.
“Sailing fast is new to me,” she asserted. “I’m probably still the slowest sailor on the boat, [which is] why I’m lucky I’ve got such a good crew around me.”
“Sailing around the world is slow and steady and sticking it out, hanging out by myself for 210 days … whereas the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, putting up with these guys for four days [is] possibly tougher.”
Race veteran and fellow competitor Adrienne Cahalan – who is navigating on board race favourite supermaxi Wild Oats XI – said that keeping calm was a top priority for Watson.
“I think for a young woman like Jessica, she's got a lot of maturity and a lot of sea miles under her belt,” asserted Cahalan.
"It's just about remaining calm and having confidence in your own decisions.”
The professional yachtswoman acknowledged that the role of a skipper was often fraught with difficulties.
However, she also said that is was important to back your own decision-making and “call it as you see it”.
As one of the first women to take part in the Sydney to Hobart and a veteran of 20 races Cahalan told reporters she was pleased so many young women are now taking part in the competition and enjoying sailing.
“I'm also proud of the fact there's so many girls now that are in their high teens in Hobart races and that women are a great part of this race,” she enthused.