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Australian girl makes sailing bid

18 October 09 05:20 GMT

A 16-year-old Australian girl has begun an attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world.

Jessica Watson left Sydney Harbour in a bright pink yacht on Sunday as she started a planned eight-month, 23,600-mile (38,000km) journey.

Officials had urged her to abandon the attempt after her boat crashed into a cargo ship on a training run.

She and her family have insisted she is experienced and capable.

She is trying to beat a record set in August this year by British teen Mike Perham who completed the round-the-world journey aged 17.

In September, Ms Watson's yacht, Pink Lady, had its rigging and mast damaged when it collided with a 63,000-tonne cargo ship on a test run.

Queensland maritime officials concluded that she had probably dozed off before the collision.

In a similar controversy, authorities in Holland put 13-year-old Laura Dekker under state care for two months in August to stop her from setting off on a solo attempt.

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