Dutch teenager sets new solo sailing record
Sixteen-year-old battles seas, and child welfare authorities, to become youngest to sail the globe
Sunday 22 January 2012
She sailed in the face of critics who said she was too young to attempt such a feat. But last night, 16-year-old Laura Dekker proved her detractors wrong by fulfilling her ambition to sail solo around the world.
The Dutch teenager, who celebrated her 16th birthday at sea, breezed into St Maarten harbour ahead of schedule last night,a year and a day after she embarked from the same Caribbean island aboard her 38ft fibreglass sailboat Guppy.
On dry land and reunited with her parents and grandparents, she said: "There were moments where I was like, 'What the hell am I doing out here?' But I never wanted to stop. It's a dream, and I wanted to do it."
Supporters cheered as she walked across the dock with her family. She is more than seven months younger than the Australian Jessica Watson, who completed a non-stop navigation in 2010 just before her 17th birthday. Miss Dekker therefore lays claim to be the youngest person to complete such a round-the-world feat. Yet, because ofthe controversy that surrounded the voyage , Guinness World Records decided to stop recognising records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts. The World Sailing Speed Record Council has also announced recently that it will not recognise "youngest sailor" records.
Miss Dekker became the centre of global media attention in 2009 when Dutch officials tried to scupper the teenager's plans, arguing she should have been in a classroom rather than navigating the world's oceans. They took their battle to court on a number of occasions. Child court judges eventually relented, with the condition that she continue her schoolwork online.
During her 12 months circumnavigating the globe, she claims to have had "a lifetime of experiences". The trip took her toAustralia and the Cape of Good Hope. She said the size of her achievement was "slowly sinking in".
Miss Dekker's latest run-in with the Dutch authorities came as she was battling heavy seas on her Atlantic crossing. While she was busy trying to keep the yacht safe, Dutch officials overseeing her welfare took it as a sign that she was neglecting her homework.
Miss Dekker was, appropriately, born on a boat in Whangarei, New Zealand, and it is this country's flag she flew from Guppy when she arrived back in harbour at St Maarten. She has spoken of how difficult she feels it will be for her to return to the Netherlands and instead plans to go to New Zealand.
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...