Girl's bid to sail around world blocked

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The Independent Online

A girl who wants to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world is still too inexperienced to be allowed to set off on her quest, a court ruled yesterday.

But Laura Dekker, 14, is still confident she can be ready to sail soon after next July, her spokeswoman said. Judges at Utrecht District Court in the Netherlands placed Laura under the guardianship of child protection authorities until next July. The ruling means Laura can continue living with her father but her parents, who are veteran sailors, must consult child protection authorities about all major decisions in her life.

A family spokeswoman told the AP news agency the teenager was "disappointed that the court does not have faith in her to leave now".

The court first blocked her departure in August out of concern for her safety. Laura's father supports the attempt but her mother said in a newspaper interview in September she thought Laura was too young.

The teenager told the court she was equipping her 26ft-yacht Guppy with extra security and communications equipment and was undergoing further training.

Briton Mike Perham was 17 when he sailed solo round the world, finishing in August. Australian Jessica Watson, 16, is trying to break his record.