Speech to welcome and acknowledge Jessica Watson and present her with the award of Life Membership S&S 34 Association at Royal Perth Yacht Club – 3 December 2011.
Hi – S&S 34 owners, crewmembers and all here who appreciate a very keenly designed and crafted sailing machine. We are delighted this morning to welcome youthful and spritely solo circumnavigator and ISAF ambassador – Jessica Watson.
It has been about 19 months since Jessica completed her epic single-handed, non-stop endeavour – which began in Sydney on 18 October 2009 and finished in a tumultuous welcome for her, where all Australia rejoiced, again in Sydney on 15 May 2010, after completing 210 days continuously at sea – in the S&S 34 Ella’s Pink Lady.
Ella’s Pink Lady, originally named ‘Shanty’, was built in Perth under the auspices of the renown Swarbrick brothers, who probably made or facilitated the building of all our boats, except the most recent, but in that regard we have with us today the current builder and also a member of that esteemed family Glen Swarbrick – welcome Glenn.
The last of the original Swarbrick brothers – Harley – as you may know passed away a sadly 5 weeks ago.
To Jessica: She and her team undertook a marvelous restoration of ‘Shanty’ making the yacht completely fit for the task of a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation.
And since she returned home, Jessica has had a remarkable time receiving many awards and attending hundreds of functions. It is now our turn to honour her, and in the home of the Australian S&S 34 – Perth, Western Australia, Jessica, we wish to acknowledge your significant achievement.
In that regard, members and friends if you haven’t already read Jessica’s book – ‘True Spirit’ I highly recommend that you do read it, for what you’ll get out of that reading, which is adventure, excitement and above all inspiration.
Also while we’re gathered here it’s appropriate to also acknowledge our other S&S 34 circumnavigators – single-handed local hero David Dicks; and, Margaret and Jim Putt (our Association’s Treasurer) who sailed around the world more leisurely in Morning Tide.
It’s worth noting that on leaving Perth, Jessica is back to what she does best – sailing. This time in 23 days she’s taking on, to pardon the pun – Another Challenge in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
As President of the Sparkman & Stephens 34 Association I have much pleasure in presenting to you our award of Life Membership and a Certificate to that effect; and we have your friend and fellow solo circumnavigator David Dicks to present to you the accompanying trophy a scale half section of Ella’s Pink Lady.
Jessica, we all wish you and the crew of Another Challenge a memorable, and hopefully successful voyage to Hobart.
President, S&S 34 Association
Jessica later went for a social sail on the Swan river aboard the newest S&S 34 “Blondie”. She commented that it was very nice to be back aboard an S&S 34 and have a tiller in her hand rather than a wheel. Here are some photos (click to enlarge):