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SYDNEY (Reuters) - A 16-year-old Australian yachtswoman set sail from Sydney on Sunday in a controversial bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
Jessica Watson's planned eight-month voyage has been widely criticised after her yacht collided with a ship on a trial run. Queensland's state government publicly requested she abandon the project. Experienced sailors have also criticised the plan.
Despite this, family and other well-wishers turned up to cheer her at the harbourside in Sydney on Sunday as she set sail at around 9.30 a.m. (11:30pm British time Saturday) in her yacht Ella's Pink Lady.
A number of boats turned out to see her off in fine weather. Government patrol boats escorted her out of the harbour.
A spokesman indicated before her departure that Watson was upbeat about the voyage and believed she had learned lessons from last month's collision.
Her voyage follows a decision by a Dutch court in August to put another teenager, aged 13, temporarily under state supervision to prevent her embarking on a similar solo attempt.
In late August, 17-year-old Briton Mike Perham set a record as the youngest person to sail solo around the globe after he spent nine months at sea.
(Editing by Charles Dick)