A 13 year old sailor from Salamander Bay is the youngest skipper to take part in Sail Port Stephens.
On Tuesday, Jessica Walker helmed her family’s 38-foot boat for the 15 nautical mile Commodore’s Cup passage race.
While no stranger to Sail Port Stephens, having taken part in the Junior One-Sail event since 2015, it is the first time Jessica has been part of a major race.
Jessica began sailing at the age of six, eventually joining Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club.
Jessica cut her teeth in the Pelican and BIC classes until her parents bought a Northshore 38 named Cipriani.
It was Cipriani that she skippered on Tuesday as part of the 10th anniversary regatta.
Jessica’s father Geoff Walker, the Sail Port Stephens regatta director, partly built Cipriani when he worked for Northshore back in the 1980s.
In fact, his pencil marks can still be seen inside the hull.
The teen is soaking up the opportunity to helm among a record Commodore’s Cup fleet – 60 vessels.
Many in her generation have Olympic dreams but Jessica said her future is offshore sailing.
“The first year I’m able to do the Sydney to Hobart race I really want to do that,” she said.
Jessica will have five years to hone her skills for the Sydney to Hobart race, as the minimum age to take part is 18 years.