While the America’s Cup aims to make sailing cool for ‘young people’ by promising a youth America’s Cup sometime after the current guys have moved onto the 72 foot version of the AC catamaran, Jessica Watson, who is arguably the best known sailor in Australia at the moment has launched a campaign to compete in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Watson will be joined by Michael Perham, who in 2009 became the youngest person to sail around the world. The average age of the crew for the Sydney Hobart Race is just 19.
The campaign is an interesting juxtaposition against other parts of the sport and shows how personality and human interest can appeal to a wider audience while talking about the technology can leave people behind. While Olympic sailors have their heads down trying to qualify for 2012 and the ‘stars’ of other pro series are mostly reluctant media performers, Watson is in her element sharing her passion for sailing with a wide demographic.
Some in the sailing media criticised Watson’s round the world voyage on technicalities, but there is no way to underestimate or denigrate the sporting challenge that is the Sydney Hobart Race.
Garry Linacre, Commodore of the The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), the host of the iconic race said:
‘We look forward to Jessica’s participation in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Jessica has been able to bring together a talented and committed crew that includes Alex Paton, an active member of the CYCA’s Youth Sailing Academy. It is passionate sailors such as these that are the future of sailing in Australia and we wish them all the best in their training and preparation for Australia’s most iconic yacht race, which commences at 1pm on Boxing Day.’
The full crew is Michael Perham (19),another solo circumnavigator from the UK, Peter Woodward (21), Will Broughton (19), Cameron Dale (20), Leigh Thorne (21), Alexandra Paton (20), Levi Curtin (18), Sean Lindsell (21), Genevieve Warlow (19).