Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The teenager, the PR industry, and the non-record

Jessica Watson (pictured), born in Queensland on 18 May 1993, is currently attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world [1]. She sailed east from Sydney on 18 October 2009, and after traversing the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans she’s expected back in Sydney next week – just before her 17th birthday. Ventures like this require money. Lots of it. And so sponsorships are located and negotiated. The more the better. Jessica has 14 sponsors (including Ella Bache after which her boat, Ella’s Pink Lady, is named) and 25 ‘official suppliers’ [2]. These 39 helpers aren’t charities. Rather, their help’s an investment. And they expect a return on their investment. Which in turn requires publicity. Lots of it [3, 4]. So Jessica’s quest’s being stage-managed by a PR firm: 5 Oceans Media [5]. Enter the World Sailing Speed Record Council [WSSRC] which sets rules for, and documents, world sailing speed records [6]. Last week a controversial storm brewed up over whether or not Jessica’s sailing route’s long enough to meet the WSSRC’s rules for around the world records; and the finger’s being pointed at 5 Oceans Media [7]. But this is all irrelevant – because the WSSRC’s discontinued the world record category of ‘Youngest non-stop single-handed circumnavigation’ [8]. Me? I think Jessica’s exceptionally courageous – and admirable. And all else’s background music. Ho hum.

1 comment:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Jessica sounds like a brave and beautiful young lady, but all the hype is a shame.