Jessica Watson is sprayed with champagne by a crew member after completing the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race yesterday. Picture: LORETTA JOHNSTONTeenage skipper Jessica Watson and her crew were enthusiastically welcomed to Hobart after finishing Australia’s most prestigious yacht race yesterday afternoon.
Nanjing Night Net

Hundreds of people clapped and cheered as Ella Bache – with the youngest crew in the race’s history – approached Constitution Dock.

Watson, 18, and her crew members all aged between 19 and 21, finished second in the Sydney 38 One Design division and, at the time, 30th on handicap with yachts still arriving. At 16, the Young Australian of the Year sailed solo around the world.

After being dunked in the Derwent by members of her crew, she reflected on the differences between solo sailing and being part of a team.

“Each had its moments – I wouldn’t be drenched and covered in who knows what right now by myself,” she said.

“But to be able to share it with these guys has been really quite amazing.”

Ella Bache completed the race in four days, two hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds.

“The crew were absolutely awesome. All credit goes to them,” Watson said. “I just held on for the ride.”

Watson said she was not thinking about what the future may hold in terms of sailing, saying she wanted to celebrate the new year in Hobart. But this is unlikely to be her last attempt at the race.

“I probably should mull it over a bit more but it’s definitely something I’d love to be doing again,” she said.

Watson was one of a number of high-profile entrants in this year’s race, which also included Today Show presenter Karl Stefanovic who was part of line honours winner Investec Loyal’s crew. Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim was also a crew member on Tasmanian yacht Whistler which finished close behind Ella Bache.

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