Jessica Watson

Travels from: Victoria

The youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world

Categories: Adventure & Challenge, Inspirational, Motivational Speakers, Sports Heroes

Full Presenter Profile & Bio

As one of the youngest persons to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted across the globe, Jessica Watson has achieved a remarkable goal. An adventurous and inspiring speaker, Jessica encourages her audience to draw on and achieve their dreams. 

Inspired by Kay Cottee, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the globe, and Jesse Martin, the youngest person to do so, Jessica set her eyes on beating Jesse’s achievement. When she sailed back into Sydney harbour in 2010, Jessica had history. 

In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Young Australian of the Year title for her extraordinary efforts. In the same year, she skippered the youngest crew ever to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, ultimately finishing second in their category

In 2012, Jessica received an Order of Australia Medal for services to sailing and being a role model for the youth of Australia.

Speaker Topics

Harnessing Fear: How anyone can turn fear into courage
Many are surprised to learn that when she first dreamt of sailing around the world, Jessica was scared of just about everything. She believes that three things enable anyone to turn their fears into courage, the ability to identify the fear that holds you back, a powerful motivation or reason why, and the realisation that anyone can choose the way they react. But as Jessica discovered when she created a media storm by colliding with a 63,000 tonne ship on her first night at sea, courage also requires practice.
Managing Risk: Why the ability to understand and manage risk is powerful
on mitigating risks. She explains that to manage risk, you must analyse the consequences and likelihood of the different dangers involved, an approach that is equally relevant to risks in the business world and in our everyday lives. Jessica also urges audiences to consider whether there may be a risk in inaction.
Participative Leadership: How saying we and giving others ownership wins support
Like many adventurers, Jessica credits much of her success to her support team. But seven years on, with many other projects under her belt, she realises that it was the diversity of her team that was its true strength. Jessica believes that the key to her being able to gain the extensive support that she did was her willingness to say we and share the project. She explains a collective goal is important in many contexts, on and off the water.
Resilience: How to develop the grit to cross oceans and take on audacious goals
Resilience was instrumental to Jessicas ability to overcome the many challenges faced during more than three years of preparation and 210 days alone at sea. She discovered that the key to mental strength was to break big goals down and focus only on the next few miles or the next small goal during tough times. Sharing insights from the many adventures and elite sportspeople she has learnt from, Jessica explains that the same approach is equally effective when it comes to tackling seemingly impossible and audacious goals.


The theme of our conference was Inspire to Lead. Jessica certainly fulfils that theme in what she has achieved in her life to date. Her story of determination and following her goals and dreams was truly motivating for us all. The confidence she displayed combined with her charming personality was fully visible in her most entertaining presentation. Jessica explained that whilst she was the figurehead of the effort, she would not have been able to achieve success without planning and backing by a professional support team. Everyone present was left feeling that if you believe in yourself and your support team nothing is impossible.


Jessica has been an outstanding key-note speaker. Warm, authentic and well prepared. Jessica has spoken several times for us to a variety of audiences and each time the room has been captivated with her compelling story. I highly recommend her for any speaking event.


Thank you for your time and sharing your experiences. Your story is truly inspiring and really resonated with the team to help push us out of our comfort zones and take on the challenges ahead of us. I really valued the time you spent with us, and the open discussion with the team was humbling and extremely motivating.

IBM Australia & New Zealand

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