Teen sailor Jessica Watson barred from race

Jessica Watson, the Australian teenager who made headlines earlier this year by becoming the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe, has been barred from sailing in an upcoming yacht race because she doesn’t meet the age requirements for the event.

Watson, who completed her round-the-world voyage back in May, had hoped to compete in the Sydney to Hobart sailing race that will get underway on December 26th, but her application was denied because she is just 17 years old. The organizers of the race require that all participants be at least 18 years of age.

The annual race, which is a popular event in Australia, begins in the Sydney Harbor, and plays out over the Tasman Sea and Storm Bay before coming to an end in the city of Hobart on the island of Tasmania. This will be the 66th running of the yacht race, which typically takes about three days to complete and crosses through 725 miles of treacherous waters. Just how treacherous? Back in 1998, a deadly accident occurred during the event which killed six sailors and prompted officials to institute the minimum age policy.

While Jessica has expressed disappointment in not being able to sail in the event, she says that it will give her more time to prepare for next year’s race. She had hoped to set out with a crew of young teenage sailors who could join her on her latest adventure on the high seas, but instead she’ll watch from the sideline as 99 other ships, some as long as 100 feet and sporting crews of more than a thousand, will race for the championship.

[Photo credit: Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race]