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Pressure piles on solo sailor -

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Pressure piles on solo sailor

Charlotte Glennie reported this story on Monday, September 28, 2009 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: The mother of a 16-year-old Queensland sailor says sexism is driving those who want
to stop her daughter's voyage around the world.

Jessica Watson wants to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world - but there's
concern that she's too inexperienced to make the trip.

An investigation by Queensland's Maritime Safety Bureau found that the teenager wasn't using some
of the most basic safety strategies when she set off on her journey earlier this month, as
Charlotte Glennie reports.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: When Jessica Watson began the preparatory leg of her dream to sail around the
world - she took a handwritten safety checklist with her, which she'd scribbled on a piece of paper
torn from a notebook.

Just hours into her journey she collided with a 63,000 tonne tanker off south-east Queensland. The
state's Maritime Safety Bureau investigated and concluded she was too inexperienced to sail solo
around the world.

Jessica Watson's mother Julie says her daughter never expected the findings to be made public.

JULIE WATSON: She is really disappointed at the level of professionalism from Queensland Transport.
We were assured that, when we asked if the letter would be a public letter, he said no its not, it
is just a private letter between my boss and your parents.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But the findings are now public knowledge. Maritime Safety Queensland found
Jessica Watson's log was irregular and she was sailing without a properly plotted course. The
authority also said she had no fatigue management plan and she hadn't switched on an anti-collision
warning device.

Queensland's Aacting Premier Paul Lucas says the report is very revealing.

PAUL LUCAS: Clearly Maritime Safety Queensland have expressed their concerns to Jessica and one of
her parents concerning the nature of the voyage that she is about to undertake. She needs to be
ready to do it. I don't believe on the evidence that I've read that she is.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: David Stewart is the director general of Maritime Safety Queensland.

DAVID STEWART: We have provided some very, very clear recommendations. Recommendations that a
prudent sailor would take on board on undertaking this voyage.

It is a significant voyage and you know, we have already seen an incident between a very large
tanker and the vessel that we are talking about so at the end of the day, we are very concerned
about maritime safety.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Repairs have been made to Jessica Watson's yacht since the collision and her
mother says she's now ready to set sail again.

JULIE WATSON: We have done a lot preparation for this voyage and it is properly the most prepared
boat that you have ever seen on the seas.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: David Stewart agrees the yacht is now shipshape.

DAVID STEWART: We can't stop the trip. We have, our issue has been around the safety of the vessel
and the vessel is safe and seaworthy and it can leave port when it is ready.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But Queensland's Acting Premier Paul Lucas still has grave reservations.

PAUL LUCAS: Governments cannot legislate to stop everything. Governments cannot legislate for
common sense. All I say is that this is a very, very serious matter and I appeal to Jessica and her
parents to have a very good think about whether she is, in fact, ready to do this.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is also paying close attention
to Jessica Watson's plans. A spokesman for the Minister says there's nothing he can do to stop the
trip, but he urges Jessica Watson's parents to listen to the concerns of maritime safety experts.

The main sponsor of Jessica Watson's voyage is the skincare company Ella Bache. The World Today
asked the company for an interview but had no response. Other sponsors of the journey include
Panasonic, Jeppesen Marine and the publishing company Hachette. None of the sponsors contacted were
available for interviews but through spokespeople no one said they're reconsidering their
commitments.

Jessica Watson's mother Julie says if her daughter was a teenage boy, she believes people would
view her case differently.

JULIE WATSON: There is a young fella from England, Mike Perham who set sail about a year ago and
just finished. He is currently the youngest circumnavigator. We know him quite well and he faced a
barrage of criticism about his journey but nothing on this level.

ELEANOR HALL: The teenage sailor's mother Julie Watson ending that report from Charlotte Glennie.