True Spirit (2023) online

Year: 2023
Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
Director: Sarah Spillane
True Spirit is a 2023 Australian biographical drama film directed by Sarah Spillane and written by Spillane, Cathy Randall, and Rebecca Banner. The film is based on the 2010 memoir of the same name by Jessica Watson, played by Teagan Croft. She is an Australian sailor who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal after attempting a solo global circumnavigation at the age of 16. The film was made available for streaming on Netflix on 3 February 2023.

In 2009, 16-year-old Jessica Watson dreams of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and unassisted, which means she must sail alone and not dock at any port along the way. The journey is estimated to take 200 days, and she must cross the equator and all Meridians of longitude. Her team consist of her parents, three siblings, and her coach Ben Bryant: a disgraced, former competitive sailor. When on her boat, Ella's Pink Lady, Jessica communicates with the team via satellite phone.

On a test run, Jessica's boat is hit by a freighter that strayed off course. She didn't notice the oncoming ship because she forgot to turn on her alert system before going to bed. The accident raises skepticism among the media as to whether Jessica can safely achieve her goal. Her parents are also worried, but continue to support her ambitions.

Jessica sets off on her journey from Sydney, and things go smoothly until she encounters her first big storm. Deciding to ride it out, Jessica lowers her sail and retreats to her cabin. The waves are so violent that she is knocked unconscious and doesn't awake until the next morning. Her parents fear she is concussed, but Jessica assures them she's fine and continues her trip.

A period of no wind occurs and Jessica's boat remains stationary for a week. During this time, she suffers from depression and loneliness. She has a heated argument with Ben and cruelly reminds him that, while competing in the New Zealand Millennium Cup, one of his crew members died under his command. He angrily quits the project in response. Jessica's mother encourages her frustrated daughter to lift her spirits by singing David Bowie's "Starman" while looking at the brightest star in the sky.

The wind returns and Jessica continues her journey. She eventually nears Australia and is about one thousand miles from Sydney. Before she can reach home, she encounters three storms that merge. Ben returns and advises her to alter the route, effectively abandoning her official circumnavigation. Jessica refuses to give up and choses to ride it out. The storm proves to be far more violent than the last one. The Pink Lady capsizes and is thrust 15 feet (4.5 meters) underwater. This sets off the boat's emergency locator beacon, and the team fears Jessica may have drowned.

The Pink Lady, however, resurfaces and rights herself. Jessica informs her family that she and the boat are safe. She returns to Sydney Harbor, 210 days after she left. Her team and a crowd spectators are there to welcome her home.

The epilogue reveals that Jessica was named the 2011 Young Australian of the Year, has written two books despite having dyslexia, and is still an avid sailor.

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