Jessica Watson, (born 18 May 1993) is an Australian sailor. She resides in Buderim, Queensland. In May 2010, she unofficially became the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world.

Watson departed from Sydney on 18 October 2009, heading eastbound over the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. She returned to Sydney on 15 May 2010, three days before her 17th birthday.

Watson was born on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The second of four children of New Zealand couple Roger and Julie Watson, who moved to Australia in 1987, and has dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship. She has an older sister (Emily) and younger brother and sister (Tom and Hannah). All four took sailing lessons as children, and the family went on to live on board a 16 metre cabin cruiser for five years, the children being home schooled via distance learning. They also lived on a purpose-built double decker bus for some time. When Jessica was eleven and they were still living on the boat, her mother read Jesse Martin’s book Lionheart: A Journey of the Human Spirit to the children as a bedtime story. This led to Jessica forming the ambition at the age of twelve to sail around the world.

Watson had been planning to complete a solo non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the globe since at least early 2008. Officially announced in May 2009, the journey was expected to take eight months with an estimated distance of 23,000 nautical miles. To fulfil the plan of sailing non-stop and unassisted, during the journey she wasn’t allowed to moor to any port or other boat. Advice over radio communication was permitted.

Watson’s planned circumnavigation route was to start and end at Sydney, and to pass near New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and South East Cape. In accordance with the definitions for circumnavigations set out by the International Sailing Federation’s WSSRC, the equator had to be crossed – this crossing was carried out near Kiritimati.

Watson arrived back in Sydney Harbour at 1:53 pm, Saturday 15 May 2010.
The Los Angeles Times reported Watson’s reason for her journey: “I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something to be proud of. And yes, I wanted to inspire people. I hated being judged by my appearance and other people’s expectations of what a ‘little girl’ was capable of. It’s no longer just my dream or voyage. Every milestone out here isn’t just my achievement, but an achievement for everyone who has put so much time and effort into helping getting me here.”

After the journey she continued a relationship with Michael Perham, the previous youngest circumnavigator who she met during a stop he made in Australia during his circumnavigation, and they had several phone conversations during her journey.

Watson has written a book about her experience, which is called True Spirit, published by Hachette Australia which was released on 29 July 2010.

Jessica has also filmed a documentary about her solo trip before, during and after completing her solo trip which was narrated by Sir Richard Branson.

On 25 January 2011 Jessica was named the 2011 Young Australian of the Year. The following year she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.