Sixteen-year-old Australian is setting out to become the youngest around the world

A new contender for the crown of youngest solo circumnavigator has been announced.

Fifteen-year-old Australian, Jessica Martin, who turns sixteen in May, will set sail aboard her Sparkman and Stephens 34 from her home in Mooloolaba on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Two current challengers are on their way at the moment – Britain’s Mike Perham, 17 and American Zac Sunderland.

Following in the footsteps of Australian Jesse Martin, the current record-holder who celebrated his 18th birthday during his circumnavigation in 1999, Jessica plans to set off shortly after her 16th birthday in 2009, returning before she turns 17, taking more than a year off Jesse’s record.

According to her challenge website, Jessica has been sailing and racing dinghies since the age of 8 and has ‘already gained significant sailing experience in coastal and offshore passages around Australia and the South Pacific.’

Her support team includes a former America’s Cup meteorologist as weather router, numerous offshore skippers as ‘mentors’, a media liason and Jesica’s Uncle, Andrew Ivory – a photographer and former investment banker.

Setting off from Australia, Jessica will round Cape Horn, then head north up the Atlantic to cross the equator, then round Cape of Good Hope and home.

Keep up with her progress on