A grinning Jessica Watson sailed into Sydney Harbor Saturday afternoon to close the circuit on her non-stop solo circumnavigation only to be greeted by tens of thousands of cheering fans. The young Aussie — just a couple days shy of her 17th birthday — had just spent the last 210 days completely alone aboard her S&S 34, Ella’s Pink Lady, so the spectacle must have been overwhelming. But the upbeat teenager appeared to take it all in stride. "I don’t consider myself a hero," she said in response to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proclamation that she was the nation’s newest hero. "I’m an ordinary girl who believed in a dream. You don’t have to be someone special or anything special to achieve something amazing. You’ve just got to have a dream, believe in it, and work hard."
Though her record-setting journey will not be officially recognized — record-keeping organizations have dropped ‘youngest’ and ‘oldest’ sailing records out of safety concerns — Jessica Watson is, to date, the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world. We applaud her amazing achievement, and have little doubt the world will be hearing much more from this driven young woman in the future.