Sailor 16 year old Jessica Watson has become the youngest Australian female to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. She set sail from Sydney on her 34 foot yacht Ella's Pink Lady on 18th October 2009. At least two other contenders are vying for the same title; 15 year old Abby Sunderland from the US (sister of 17 year old Zac Sunderland, youngest solo circumnavigator) and 14 year old Laura Dekker from the Netherlands (who is currently awaiting clearance from the Dutch court because of her age). It has become some-what of a race. All three will be older by the time they complete their circumnavigation of the Earth and the record will be claimed by the youngest at the time of completion.
We wish them luck. There is some doubt that 14 year old Laura Dekker has sufficient knowledge of navigation and astronomy to work her own celestial sights or complete the voyage without assistance as defined by the rules.
Bold and impressive as today's attempts may be, they do not detract
from those of earlier adventurers, young and old, who circumnavigated
the globe in flimsier craft without the benefits of comprehensive
charts, satellite communication, storm tracking technology and
state-of-the-art navigation devices. Some of them did not survive.
Make no mistake; even present day solo voyages are no joyrides. They are fraught with dangers that no amount of 'assistance' or technology can foresee. The dangers include impact with sunfish, whales, turtles, flotsam, jetsam and uncharted reefs. They include pirates, hurricanes, break downs, bow swamps, loss of communication, capsize .... the list is endless.
|The first circumnavigators:
The first true circumnavigators of the Earth whose route took them into both hemispheres were led by Juan Sebastian Elcano, navigator on Magellan's boat, who completed the voyage in 1522 with the 17 surviving crew members of Magellan's disastrous expedition across the Pacific.
The first person to sail single-handed around the world was American-Canadian Joshua Slocum in 1898. Since Slocum proved that such a feat was possible literally hundreds have attempted a circumnavigation of the Earth for sport, pleasure or kudos.
Most modern day circumnavigators favour routes that take them into both hemispheres with a few passing south of the five noted capes of the southern oceans; Good Hope, Leeuwin (Aust), South-East cape (Tasmania), South-West cape (NZ) and the notorious Horn, usually sailing eastward. A few courageous single-handed sailors have tackled the "wrong way" westward route battling against the prevailing winds, currents and waves.
Some of today's chosen routes are not true great-circle tracks.
A true circumnavigation of the Earth entails passing through a pair of
antipodal (opposite) points on the surface of the globe.
Current and proposed attempts:
2009: There are three current contenders for the title of youngest sailor to complete
a single-handed circumnavigation of the Earth. All are female and all are under 18.
All are following different routes and the record will be claimed by the youngest at the completion of their voyage.
|Comprehensive lists of solo
circumnavigators can be found elsewhere.
Here are a few notable ones,
First single-handed circumnavigator:
First circumnavigator on a short boat:
Youngest circumnavigator (non-stop):
First woman circumnavigator
circumnavigator (with stops):
Oldest circumnavigator (continuous):
Most circumnavigations by the same
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