An Australian schoolgirl bidding to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world began her journey Sunday, despite urgings from officials to abandon the perilous endurance test.
Sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson set sail on her bright pink yacht from Sydney Harbour at about 9:00 am (2200 GMT Saturday), amid cheers from well-wishers and accompanied by a collection of kayakers and small boats.
The teenager badly damaged her boat when she crashed into a 63,000-tonne cargo ship shortly after beginning a test run last month, prompting Queensland state officials to urge her to reconsider her quest.
But Watson, who will sleep in 20-minute naps during the eight-month non-stop sail, was determined to embark on the voyage, which she said she had been dreaming about since she was about 11.
"There are people out there who I suppose have their doubts, and rightly so because it's a big, scary and possibly dangerous thing, but I am not here without confidence," she said earlier this month.
Watson plans to travel north from Sydney to the equator above New Zealand, around South America's treacherous Cape Horn and back via the Southern Atlantic and the Cape of Good Hope, completing a 23,000 nautical mile sail.