Jessica Watson's sail ripped

JESSICA Watson’s yacht Ella’s Pink Lady has suffered sail damage in violent Southern Ocean conditions.

Over the past two days Jess, a 16-year-old Buderim schoolgirl, has faced six metre swells, cold stinging rain and wind gusts of 50 knots.

After sailing south east yesterday, sudden gusts of 50 knots hit Ella’s Pink Lady, creating two large tears in the mainsail.

A spokesman from the Watson camp said conditions had eased to 25 knots but conceded the wild weather had taken its toll on Jess.

The horror conditions followed numerous electrical storms in the Southern Ocean, which prevented Jess from getting much sleep.

Jess, who aims to become the youngest person in history to sail solo and unassisted around the world, is expected to reach Sydney in early May.

Jessica has encountered numerous electrical storms over the past 72 hours which have prevented her from getting much sleep and tested her endurance.

"So despite being closer to home, it's been a difficult week so far,'' her spokesperson said.

"As usual, Jessica has a positive attitude and reports that all is well, as she has a spare mainsail and the prediction is for better weather over the next week as she heads east to Tasmania.

"We are all wishing Jessica a fine run home over the next few weeks, as the anticipation of her arrival back into Sydney builds.

"Once the weather settles, Jessica will provide a more detailed update for everyone on her blog.''



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