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Jessica Watson: Knocked down in 70K gusts with 7-10 meter seas


Photo by Jessica Watson before storm with 70K windsJessica Watson has dealt with her first major blow of her voyage and is currently tidying up after winds of over 70K caused her first knockdown of the voyage.

Part of the responsibility of any skipper on an open ocean voyage is to continually prepare for what may never happen; stowing gear on deck or in the cabin is critical if the unexpected happens.

A spokesman on her website commented on her ordeal:

"Jessica Watson has faced her toughest test to date on her solo circumnavigation, having experienced a violent storm overnight with hurricane-force wind gusts of up to 70 knots and a swell of 7-10 metres, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Jessica also experienced her first knockdown and then had to endure three more during the eight hour storm. A ‘knockdown’ is when the mast goes below horizontal and into the sea. In Jessica's case, she was hit by a series of rogue waves."

Experienced blue-water sailors often note that they ask themselves: What would happen here if we were inverted? Gear not properly stowed or loose objects can certainly go overboard or become a danger to the crew.  As noted in many articles previously, the training and discipline exhibited by this young sailor has served her well during these extreme conditions.

"We certainly copped a pounding out here, but we came through it all OK. It’s time like this when you realise why good preparation of the boat is so important. She handled it well," said Jessica, referring to her S&S 34, Ella's Pink Lady.

The 16 year-old Australian solo sailor has now covered over 11,000 nautical miles of her voyage and is nearing the halfway point in her circumnavigation.


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