Why it's time for teenager Jessica Watson's media minders to back up her blogs with proper position tracking

Since 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson set off on her controversial attempt to become the youngest to sail round the world I’ve occasionally checked up on her official website. But I’ve never got it working and even now throws up a server error message.

Yesterday I posted a blog about this and lamented the lack of facts. I wrote saying surely her media minders and parents can see that this omission inevitably raises questions?

A reader promptly pointed out that the site was working and that there were positions. Thanks Jon; you’ve got me bang to rights. There is a map with positions on it on the site so I’ve amended this story.

First the website. That’s perplexing. None of us at YW can load the official site (click here). It returns a server error message and has done since around the time Jessica left. We have no blocks or restrictions at work on account of some of the unusual sites that our music titles and lads magazines apparently need for research. So for some reason not everyone can see this site.

As to the map, however, I haven’t really changed my mind about this. This is no more a record of verifiable positions that a written report with a stated location. The rider on the map notes that they aren’t accurate GPS positions. But as I assume Jessica is tracked and her precise co-ordinates, course, speed and so on can be polled remotely, why not make these available?

That allows the reader to cross-reference her position with real time weather reports or to tally up any statistics about speed, distance run, etc. It allows an insight into how the boat is being sailed, if it’s being pushed harder or not, if there is a problem on board and other things besides.

Tracking information is the norm on most oceanic races and records, and is being introduced on some cruising rallies next year. It was an invaluable record and commitment to veracity on the part of young Mike Perham’s team earlier this year.

So I still say that withholding information that her media minders and parents surely must be receiving is misguided.

Proper reporting is so easy and cheap today, it really has to be a must. Regular verifiable positions are a very reasonable and sensible precaution for all kinds of reasons.

On a much promoted and hyped record attempt, you just can’t take the facts away, and you definitely shouldn’t in light of the chequered past of self-promoting record-seekers (only the most infamous being the tragic case of Donald Crowhurst’s deceit in the Golden Globe Race of 1969).

Jessica’s parents and media advisers really should make sure they get tracking online soon to do their part for the teenager.