It's always nice when your efforts are noticed. Courtney Trenwith from the Brisbane Times certainly noticed our efforts in helping Jessica Watson kick some goals using the internet. Here is her article from March 17, 2010.
Photo: Peter Rae
Jessica Watson owes a lot to the internet. Enough to fill a large bank account.
Not only is the world wide web allowing the Queensland adventuress to communicate with her support team as she attempts to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe on treacherous seas, her online presence is creating a global profile that is set to reap her big dollars back on dry land.
More than one million people each week log onto the 16-year-old's online blog and thousands are members of at least one of Jessica's four profiles on social media sites, which span the most popular social networking and video sharing tools.
Whether it's the enormity of her quest, the youthfulness of her simply-worded entries or her tales of dolphins, magical sunsets and battles with wild storms at the base of the world that attracts readers, there is no doubt Jessica's story has captivated the public's imagination.
It also means she is almost guaranteed to make a fortune from her experience whether or not she sails into Sydney Harbour to complete her journey as planned for late March or early April.
And her management is well aware of the hype.
“Definitely, there's no question the age, the technology, the world that we live in now [have boosted Jessica's profile],” spokesman Andrew Fraser told brisbanetimes.com.au.
“[The internet means] a person's profile can go from nothing to anyone that does anything controversial or inspirational, the whole world can read about it at the click of a button.
“There's no question that that has impacted on the profile of not only Jess but other sporting people.
“It's extraordinary she has a global profile; a million hits a week consistently on the website and they're from 170 countries.”
It's a world away from the time when Jesse Martin became the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world in 1999, almost a decade to the day before Jessica pushed off in an attempt to trump his record.
“It's a different world to what it was 10 years ago, there's no question that Jess has engaged not only Australia but the world,” Mr Fraser said.
“That's the beauty of the web, everybody can actually follow the journey.
“Jesse Martin had the satellite phone, of course, but … Jess has her blog and can keep supporters informed on a daily basis.”
Celebrity agents would not comment on Jessica's potential worth but there are rumours of million-dollar sponsorship deals awaiting her return.
Her current sponsors include no fewer than 38 companies, including cosmetics giant Ella Bache, entrepreneur Dick Smith and Network Ten's digital channel OneHD, which is making a documentary of her voyage.
From her website, fans can purchase official merchandise, and plans are already in place to cash in on Jessica's popularity when she returns home.
A camera has been rolling since well before she set sail from Sydney last October and she has made live appearances on a television sports network via satellite.
She is writing a book while still at sea and the journal is expected to hit the shelves in August, just four months after her expected arrival home.
It already has a title and front cover image, although publishers Hachette Australia have not confirmed they are final.
The momentum is likely to increase as Jessica closes in on her 38,000 kilometre endeavour – she has less than 6000 kilometres to go – and the desire to capitalise on her ability to earn money from what started as a controversial dream means a lot of work for the high school student as soon as she disembarks.
Mum Julie Watson told brisbanetimes.com.au last month her daughter was looking forward to shopping and going to the movies.
But Mr Fraser made it clear there were a few chores to be done too.
“The majority of the first month to six weeks after coming back will be finishing off writing the book; that will be a fairly intense period for her,” he said.
“She'll do the welcome back media commitments, then she'll probably want to lock herself away and complete the writing of her book, which she's been doing out there.”
However, he insisted there would be a period of “sleep, rest, eat” and down time in between editing pages.
One of Jessica's sponsors is promoting a meet-and-greet with the teenager as soon as she arrives home but Mr Fraser would not be drawn on any further plans for her arrival.
“We haven't got anything planned yet because … there's just so many demands on Jess at the moment, everyone is wanting to have her as an ambassador,” he said.
Tonto Digital (in partnership with Elixir Digital and Dtail Noisemakers) designed and developed Jessica's website as well as managed Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr for Jessica whilst she was at sea.