Saturday, May 8, 2010

Solo Circumnavigation, “Official” Records, and the Spirit and Letter of the Law.

I’ve been in email contact with Rob Kothe of Sail World (and thanks, Rob, for your gracious replies), also the author of the article Jessica Watson – no criticism of Jessica – just her PR Team . Once again, I point out that Jessica’s record was never, in the first place, going to be recognised by the WSSRC since it has discontinued “youngest” category. That’s really where the debate should end, if we look at all of this from a “technical” point of view. Arguing over a couple of thousand miles or so won’t make a difference to this fact. The WSSRC will not recognise Jessica’s sail, and not because she failed to go far enough north, but because of her age. We need to get that firmly fixed in our minds. The recognition that Jessica will get is for her incredible and courageous solo around the world sail, at only 16 years old, and even John Bertrand recognises this. Perhaps Jessica’s PR team could have done a little more homework (or maybe have been more precise), by stressing exactly what I’ve pointed out above in regard to age requirements, and that this would never be a “world record attempt” according to WSSRC rules.

Lest anyone doubt that the WSSRC have discontinued the “youngest” (and “oldest” ) category, here is the evidence: Other Kinds of Sailing Records In other words, Jesse Martin will perhaps remain forever as the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe, at 18 years of age, so Jess was never going to “smash” Jesse’s record, according to WSSRC rules. (And it should also be noted that even Jesse Martin's record is listed in "Other Kinds of Sailing Records", therefore not officially accepted.)

The other interesting fact I should point out, is that Kay Cottee, recognised as the first female solo circumnavigator, is not listed in the WSSRC "Official" records. Check for yourself, and let me know if something escaped my attention: WSSRC Ratified Passage Records . She is listed in "Other Kinds of Sailing Records", but not "Official" sailing records.

Regardless, when Jessica sails into Sydney Harbour in a week’s time, she is more than deserving of a hero’s welcome, and no less than that given to Kay Cottee, because like Kay, she embodies the “true spirit” of Australia, of “having a go”, and most importantly, fulfilling a personal childhood dream. Let us not let “committees” and “official rules” get in the way of recognising real courage and inspiration in the face of almost insurmountable odds.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. This remarkable young lady deserves all the congratulations we can give and throwing brickbats at the last minute is deplorable.

    The rules are clearly made to benefit Northern Hemisphere competitors and the writer of the Sail World article missed one subtle point in her diatribe.

    According to a strict interpretation of the WSSRC rules even Jessie Martin did not sail around the world. He started from Melbourne, latitude 47 south and, according to Sail World the rules state "No starting point will be permitted more south than 45 ° south". I would have thought that in these days of verifiable tracking that the actual distance based on daily waypoints is important not the calculated shortest distance between capes.

    All of these young adventurers deserve our accolades for their achievements as role models for other youngsters. Not nit picking from some one who will probably never match their achievements.

    Bravi, Jesse and Jessica both!

    expat Ausie
    Lake Como