Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jessica Watson: A Great Australian.

Jess crossed the finish line at about 1:55pm Sydney time, accompanied by hundreds of other vessels (it was really spectacular; equal to the Sydney-Hobart start), and thousands observing on shore. Jesse Martin and Mike Perham boarded Ella's Pink Lady after Jess was cleared by Australian Customs, and Jesse Martin took the helm as Mike Perham chatted to Jessica for the media after she tasted her first fresh orange in seven months, as the sails of Ella's Pink Lady went down - for the last time. Both boat and skipper somewhat bruised, but no where near crisis point, and reports say that Jess lost some weight, but a few rounds of pavlova should soon rectify that. During the coming week Ella's Pink Lady will be on display at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, and I dare say it will not be a minor attraction. After Jesse Martin berthed Ella’s Pink Lady, Jess disembarked and set foot on dry land for the first time in seven months, supported by her patents Julie and Roger, for a tearful yet joyful reunion with them. Then she walked down the pink carpet with her brother's and father's arm around her shoulder. One thing that kind of disappointed me was that Bruce Arms didn’t receive any mention in the Channel Nine coverage, even though a reporter indirectly suggested it. Though it was obvious that Bruce was always nearby in his catamaran. The incredible achievements and invaluable support Jess’ most ardent supporters and helpers gave will no doubt later come to the surface, because Jess could not have done this without them.

Towards the end, the 200 metre bow exclusion zone, and 100 metres to the sides and stern seemed to go haywire, with boats coming uncomfortably close to Ella’s Pink Lady, in my opinion, but fortunately nothing happened. Perhaps the water police just couldn’t control it. After making their way to the stage, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a speech, in which he mentioned his contact with Jessica during her voyage, particularly on Australia Day, and what message she had for Australians. Then NSW Premier Kristina Keneally (related to Thomas through her husband) also gave a speech, and both, I might say, were quite dignified and in keeping with the elation of this special occasion. Finally Jess was given time to have her say, and she respectfully disagreed with the Prime Minister that she was a “new Australian hero”, by saying:

“I’m an ordinary girl with an ordinary dream,” she said.
“You just have to have a dream believe in it and work hard.
“Anything really is possible.”

This is very characteristic of Jessica Watson, as anyone who has followed her blog will realise. Pomp and ceremony seem to be the last thing on this amazing young lady’s mind. As one media person mentioned, you could hardly tell the difference in her attitude, whether she was battling 12 metre waves and knockdowns, or sailing smoothly, because it was always so temperate and positive. She took the good and bad in the same breath.

Maybe Jessica doesn’t, and maybe never will see herself as a “hero”, or extraordinary, but in the eyes of people like me, she will always be a special and extraordinary human being, even a “hero”, and in my opinion a real positive example for generations of young Australians to follow.

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