Jessica Watson was just 16 when she sailed around the world solo, spending 210 days at sea.
On Sunday afternoon, she and the Azzurro crew completed the Sydney to Hobart to the cheers of loved ones acknowledging a cause more important than any record.
Watson, now 30 and a former Young Australian of the Year, used the race to raise awareness about the importance of blood pressure checks.
Her long-term partner Cameron Dale, himself an avid sailor, died in 2021 at the age of 29 after suffering a stroke.
Watson said it meant the world to her to help raise funds for the Stroke Foundation with others by her side.
“It’s so special. It’s awesome to be able to support (the foundation) in a small way,” she said.
Navigator Sam Duncan said Cameron was one of his best mates for two decades.
Footwear belonging to Cameron was in the Azzurro cockpit – an item with a “bit of a story” behind it.
“Losing him has been really bad … to say the least,” Duncan said.
“He’s still part of our lives every day, and doing this is a way to remember him and help people not go through what he went through.”
Azzurro arrived at Hobart’s Constitution Dock 77th across the line, five days, two hours and 44 minutes after setting out on Boxing Day.
The S&S34 yacht was the same model Watson took around the globe.
She said it held up well in tough conditions that proved a mental challenge when winds died off.
“(Azzurro) has a cult following in the sailing community. It’s an iconic boat that I followed for many, many years,” Watson said.
“Everyone has stories about this boat and sailing in it.”
She said the crew of six, who were greeted by fans including one kid who had drawn a picture of the yacht with accompanying big swell, would walk away as mates for life.
“I’m on someone’s fridge now,” Duncan joked of the picture.
The five remaining yachts at sea are slated to arrive in the new year, including Sylph VI, which is skippered by Bob Williams, who has his cat Oli on board.
Supermaxi LawConnect took out line honours in the 78th edition of the 628-nautical-mile bluewater race, while Tasmanian yacht Alive was handicap winner for the second time.
(Australian Associated Press)