Sailing into greatness

Just been watching Channel 4’s The Schoolboy Who Sailed the World, an account of Michael Perham’s circumnavigation of the globe.

It’s an impressive feat for any lone yaughtie. But when I tell you that Mr Perham was just over 17 years of age, a schoolboy from Potters Bar and the youngest person to achieve it, then it becomes all the more remarkable.

Now, 16-year-old Jessica Watson from Australia is having a crack, having just passed the 2,000 nautical mile mark of her 23,000 mile journey. Waiting in the wings is Dutch girl Laura Dekker. She is only 13 years old!

Some may disagree with teenagers embarking on such dangerous adventures. They may possess the technical abilities necessary for long distance sailing, but do they possess the life experience necessary to deal with all the potential adversity they could face while at sea?

Of course they don’t, and who cares anyway? In a time when the world likes to brand teenagers as uninspiring and unremarkable, leading a life of consumerism, television and video games, it is a pleasure to see these truly remarkable individuals proving everyone wrong. As Jeannie Babb Taylor says:

“Amazing teens can do amazing things. We cheer our young Olympians without asking too many questions about their education, because we realize that their experiences are a different kind of education. We listen to young music phenoms without worrying too much if they miss some of the ordinary experiences of youth, because we recognize that they are allowed to experience the extraordinary.”

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