I wanted to post a quick update this morning on the story I wrote about yesterday regarding Dutch teenager Laura Dekker, who hoped to set sail in the days ahead on a solo circumnavigation attempt in order to break the record for the youngest person to sail around the world.
Apparently the Dutch courts ruled against Laura a short time ago, and the girl will now not be allowed to set out on her journey. The details are a bit sketchy at this point, but this story from the Associated Press says that the judges felt that risks were still way too high for a girl of her age to be sailing the oceans alone. They also granted the child protective services an extra month of supervision over Laura, extending their charge until August 1.
Laura has said, on more than one occasion, that she hopes to break the “youngest around” record, which was recently established by Jessica Watson, who sailed back home to Australia just three days shy of her 17th birthday. Considering that she is still just 14, she has a couple of years to achieve that record, although she had hoped to begin soon after completing several skills tests and purchasing a new, larger boat.
There is no indication that Abby Sunderland’s recent troubles in the Indian Ocean had any impact on the judge’s decision, but it is also hard to believe that they didn’t. The 16 year old was attempting to set a new record as well, when storms snapped her mast, stranding her in the middle of nowhere, and setting off a massive rescue attempt. There were even points when she was feared lost at sea.
For my part, I’m glad that they blocked Laura from leaving. I personally feel that 14 is far too young to be making this journey, no matter how many technical skills you have. She should take some time to build experience, both on and off the water, before getting ready, and then revisit the idea in a couple of years, when she is more mature. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Laura Dekker, and we’re like to get further updates on this in the weeks ahead.
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