Australian round-the-world teen sets sail for record attempt

Australian round-the-world teen sets sail for record attempt Sydney  - A 16-year-old Australian out to sail around the world solo on Thursday passed the point where three weeks ago she collided with a 63,000-ton coal carrier.

Jessica Watson's 10.4-metre yacht was dismasted in the collision on the east coast that came just a day into her planned 8-month voyage.

Following extensive repairs, Watson set out again for Sydney, where next week she expects to start her attempt at becoming the youngest person to sail around the world unaided.

Watson has refused to say whether she was asleep below decks when her fibreglass boat was almost sunk by the Chinese ship at the dead of night in a busy shipping lane near Brisbane.

The collision, and a subsequent marine safety inquiry that found serious deficiencies in her seamanship and preparation, added to the chorus of calls for her to abandon her plans.

"Governments cannot legislate for common sense," Queensland deputy premier Paul Lucas said. "All I say is, this is a very serious matter and I appeal to Jessica and her parents as to whether she is in fact ready to do this."

The controversy over the voyage has been exacerbated by Watson's reluctance to communicate other than through minders and the notion that she is being pushed too hard by her parents.

"She wanted to leave yesterday but we thought to give her an extra night's rest," a spokesman said. "Mum, Dad and the team were there to wish her the best."

Watson had initially set her sights on a record set 10 years ago by fellow Australian Jesse Martin, who at 18 circumnavigated the globe on his own. Martin's record was broken last month by 17-year-old Briton Mike Perham.

"I hope this doesn't turn out to be a disaster," a person identified as Anth posted on the website of national broadcaster ABC. "This girl is anything but a role model - unless you are looking for a role model for rushing foolishly into complex endeavours hoping that teen enthusiasm will overcome practical difficulties." (dpa)