Australian young sailor Watson to compete in Sydney-Hobart race

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The youngest person so far to sail solo around the world, Jessica Watson of Australia on Thursday announced that she has assembled the youngest crew ever to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

About 10 months ago, the then 16-year-old girl Watson battled fierce storms and loneliness at sea, become the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world in 210 days.

She sailed into Sydney Harbor to a hero's welcome on May 15, 2010, having finally completed a 23,000 nautical mile-journey with seven months after setting off.

In January 2011, she has also be named the Young Australian of the Year.

Watson will not be eligible to race until she turns 18 on May 18 this year, but she has assembled a 10-member crew of young sailors to compete in in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December 26.

The sailors from Australia and the United Kingdom range in age from 17 to 21 and the team has already begun training. They will sail a Sydney 38 yacht, fittingly named "another Challenge".

According to coach Chris Lewin, the crew will start training intensively for three months towards the end of the year.

"It will be so important for the team to learn quickly and effectively," he told ABC Sports on Thursday.

"It's not our job to make them the youngest crew on the water, it's our job to make them the best crew on the water."

Watson said she wanted to prove the Hobart race was not just for older sailors.

"I am so excited to announce this project today. It has been a busy process selecting our crew, but I am absolutely delighted to be working with such a dynamic and motivated group of young sailors," Watson told Sunshine Coast Daily on Thursday.

"We have just spent a week training together in Melbourne (of Australia) and getting to know each other and everyone has bonded so well."

"We wanted to give this opportunity to young people and people who wouldn't necessarily have had the chance to do the race."

Meanwhile, Commodore Gary Linacre from Sydney's Cruising Yacht Club said the teenagers will cause some fantastic challenges against the other teams in a highly competitive division.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, Australia and finishing in Hobart. The annual race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

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