Friday, May 14, 2010


I learned a new phrase recently , "the tall poppy syndrome". According to Wikipedia , "this is a disparaging term used to describe when people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers."

This term has been used in Australia to describe the attacks on Jessica Watson. She is the 16 year old girl who is one day away from completing her attempt to sail around the world solo,non-stop and unassisted. She is due to sail into Sidney harbor 200 days after she left, trip completed without incident.

According to WSSRC rules, "To sail around the World, a vessel must start from and return to the same point, must cross all meridians of longitude and must cross the Equator. The shortest orthodromic track of the vessel must be at least 21,600 miles in length." The big word there is orthodromic which is basically "as the crow flies."

The first part of the requirement, she did flawlessly, it is the miles covered where there is controversy. Her actual nautical miles traveled, which includes tack, is about 23,000 but as the crow flies, she only covered 19,631. So no record. Being the youngest doesn't count either for age is no longer taken into account.

While her feat may not be record worthy, she can be quite proud of what she has accomplished. I wrote about her here when she first started and I have followed her almost daily, totally fascinated and in awe. Her attitude has been amazing and her courage cannot be in doubt.

I seriously questioned at the time about letting a teen attempt such a trip, but as I read her almost daily posts, I realized this was one "tall poppy." One of the things about her account that impressed me the most is that she almost never whined. She makes me look like a crabby grump. So refreshing from the usual teen wail, "I'm soooo bored." No teen angst from this young lady.

There were boring days when there was little or no wind. She used the time to clean ship or study. The times during storms, when she had to hang on for dear life as the ship took a knockdown (when the boat heels almost 90 degrees and the mast is almost parallel to the ocean surface) she would only say that she was happy to be making good time in the storm.

The lack of record will not affect her book deal or documentary. Mainly it hasn't in the least dampened her thrill for accomplishing such an amazing feat nor should it for she has done at 16 what many dream about but oh so few accomplish. Her attitude is exemplary, she has no malice towards her critics and is totally up beat. She is all ready planning new adventures.

If you want to see what a special person she is, check out her Thursday's post. You will see some amazing pictures. The competent person who has almost completed an arduous journey, finally lets loose to show she is still very much a teen. Like her, I am sorry the trip is over but I have enjoyed it all. It has been seven very interesting months. Thank you Jesse and I will miss the daily adventures quite a lot.

Pretty sure we have not heard the last of Jessica Watson. You go girl.


  1. What an amazing feat! I never lose faith in our younger generations, despite the negative press.

    I feel each generation produces leaders and I bet Jesse will become a leader in many areas because she things outside the box and has plenty of self confidence.

  2. I can't believe it is almost over. Quite an amazing feat for anyone let alone a sixteen year old.

  3. What a great achievement! She is amazing and she writes well! She should write a book about this adventure!
    Her critics should be ashamed of themselves! I bet they cannot do half of what she did.
    In Holland we have a saying:"Tall trees catch a lot of wind."

  4. What an amazing young girl,...! So brave and adventurous...No matter what they say, this is a MONUMENTAL Achievement! I love that you have been following her journey Patti....I only heard about her fairly recently....
    Tomorrow is going to be quite a day for her, isn't it? And for everyone who has been cheering her on, too.
    And I say, Poo on those naysayers....

  5. What an amazing young woman. I hope we haven't heard the last of her.

  6. Thanks to your post I learned something new today. I had never hear of "The tall poppy syndrome" until today. That girl is amazing! What great stories she will have to share for years to come. Hugs

  7. What an amazing young lady. She certainly is a winner in my book. Have yourself a happy week-end, and no grumbling Patti. LOL

  8. Nitwit,
    I know--I'm impressed. And you are right, her self confidence is one of the things that impressed me the most. She didn't doubt it could be done.

    Wow, did it ever go fast. Seems like she should only be half way there. Will miss checking in on her.

    Reader Wil,
    I do love the "Tall trees catch a lot of wind" expression also. both were new to me. Also was impressed with her writing abilities. Very readable and interesting.

    Wish I could see the celebration but maybe if she does a documentary, I will at a later date.
    Pretty sure she can laugh at the naysayers all the way to the bank.

    She says she has some more plans that are currently adding to her parents gray hair. I mean, you can't retire from daring do at 16.

    I have added her to my list of people I wouldn't mind spending a day with. There were many times she was too busy staying afloat to write. Those had to be facinating times.

    Me too Patty. She is special and I really admire her attitude. You have a great week end also.

  9. I am totally impressed! I wish I had found you and her earlier! Like you, I would have followed her daily. Amazing!

  10. It's hard to imagine such a young person being that brave!

  11. She's totally amazing - a real tribute to parents who helped her on this journey. blessings, marlene

  12. I have never heard of that syndrome---but I certainly am proud of Jessica.. She is certainly wise beyond her years. To keep such an attitude is totally awesome. I wonder what her next 'goal' is!!!! Just imagine if ALL of us would step out of our boxes, out of our comfy chairs, and be POPPIES---achieving something which others didn't think we could do.

    Neat post, Patti.

  13. She sounds absolutely incredible! I will be off to check out her blog soon! Perhaps it is very late here tonight...But her story is inspiring! You always keep us up-to-date with the most interesting stories! Love, Janine XO

  14. Follow your dreams; I have not heard the tall poppy syndrome before but I have heard folks comment (call me) over achiever, what's with that; if someone doesn't do anything they are lazy and if they do they are an over achiever or tall poppy. I'll take a peek at her blog; I remember hearing about her on the news and thinking the same as you; that she was too young, but I guess she proved me wrong.

  15. Wow!! An amazing teen, indeed....
    Thank you for posting Thursday's post...I went there and will after the fact, follow every entry she has on her blog. Very brave and talented young woman.
    and still I whine when it is too hot or cold out...shame on me.

  16. Lynda G.
    I was great fun following her path. The few days she did not post were scary for those following for she was out there alone.

    You are right. When I think of the average 16 year old or even the 16 year old I was, I am amazed.

    She is a tribute to her parents who took a lot of flack for letting her go.

    She says her next want-to-do all ready has added more gray to her father's head. It would be hard to be her parent.

    Sniffles and Smiles,
    Thanks, I was just lucky to have found her story and could follow. I really like her writing style.

    Linda Starr,
    She proved a lot of people wrong. At first I really didn't think she would finish. A lesson in determination.

    It is a great story and I don't think you will be sorry. Spunky about sums her up.

  17. I had gotten to know about her expedition through your earlier post I remember. I didn't follow her regularly but initially I read a lot & was very very inspired. Gosh you & I know each other for quite some time now. Now you tell me that girl has finished her expedition!!! I think its time for me to go make something of myself .. before she starts her next expedition ;)

  18. What a fantastic journey she's having. Some people have it in them to do amazing things.

  19. Jessica made it - I cannot imagine one of my daughters wanting to do something like that when she was 16
    I would have had to have an other boat and followed her all the way.

  20. I read her blog for a while. I could never do what she did, because I am not a sailor and because I could never isolate myself for that long. I'd do well to last a week without others!!

  21. lostworld,
    It has been a while hasn't it? Time flies. We must be having fun. You don't have to worry about making something of your self, your talents will do that for you. Keep painting and writing.

    It is hard to imagine how she will top this but somehow, I think she will. I imagine it is a bit hard starting from the top at 16.

    Sniffles and Smiles,
    Always happy when you stop by. Thanks.

    Pretty sure the real heroes here were her parents. They had to let her go. Even with satelitte phones, it must have been brutal on them.
    I can see you in the boat behind your daughter. You go Dad.

    I could probably had taken the isolation with all the communication devices we have today, but to face a 40 foot wave by myself would have had me cowering on the bottom of the boat in the fetal positon.

  22. she is an exceptional young woman

    I have always wondered about the syndrome of tearing people down - makes me shake my head

  23. I saw the article in the paper and was amazed that she accomplished such a trip. I remember thinking, NO NO... TOO YOUNG!"

    what do I know.

    Thanks for the link to her website. I think my husband, the sailor wannabe, will enjoy it too.

  24. Dianne,
    Me too Dianne, some people just feel the need to tear down to make themselves bigger.

    I too had my doubts and wondered about her parents but they obviously knew what type of girl they had raised.
    It was an interesting 7 months.

  25. I have been following her trip through her blog. She is truly an amazing young woman. I love the phrase "The Tall Poppy Syndrome" - I never heard it before.

  26. Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    She really had a neat blog didn't she? Will kind of miss checking on her and following her trip on Google Earth. It was an adventure.