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Court lifts supervision order on teen solo sailor Laura Dekker

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Middelburg family court has lifted its supervision order on 14-year-old Laura Dekker, clearing the way for the teenager to start her solo round-the-world sailing trip.

The court said it could not determine whether the two-year voyage would damage the girl's social and emotional development, as the child protection council claimed.

The court said it is now up to the girl's parents to decide whether or not she can make the two-year voyage. Her mother had been opposed to the trip but earlier this month wrote a plea in a national newspaper for her daughter to be allowed to go.

At last week's court hearing, the child protection council said it wanted Laura to remain under its guardianship, but social workers in Utrecht, where the girl lives, disagreed.


The social workers said Dekker had met the conditions for making the trip which were made when she was first put under court supervision last year.

These include increasing her experience of solo sailing, taking a first aid course and learning to cope with sleep deprivation.

Dekker told reporters after the verdict she was so happy she almost jumped into the water. 'If I want to break the record, I will have to leave as soon as possible,' she said.

Not non-stop

She hopes to become the youngest person to sail solo round the globe but her voyage will not be non-stop.

In May, 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail around the world alone, non-stop.

Another 16-year-old, Abby Sunderland of the United States had to be rescued after huge waves snapped the mast of her boat in the Indian Ocean.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Is it so important to risk the life of a young girl simply to break a world record. The American 16 yr. old girl failed a few weeks ago because of a broken mast from storms and is lucky to be alive. If Laura's father thinks the life of his child is worth the risk than so be it. As an avid sailor I hope she makes it but as a father I say this is still foolish and would never send my own daughter out no matter how much technology is crammed into her boat.

By tvis | 27 July 2010 3:37 PM

I disagree with tvis. I think it's important for young people to dream big and through courage and determination accomplish a difficult goal. Boys and girls need peers such as Laura to look up to as an ordinarily girl who created for herself the opportunity of doing something great.

By Bob from Seattle | 27 July 2010 9:03 PM

Well, get ready to open your wallets for another rescue at sea. Don't think for a moment that the parents will pay for her rescue if she encounters difficulties. You would think governments would make both the sailor and her parents sign a document agreeing to "set sail at your own risk" and if a rescue is required, all costs will be covered by Laura Dekker's parents. Have her parents agreed to be 100% responsible? No! So, if Laura is successful, she wins financially and if she gets in trouble, Dutch citizens pay. How is that fair?

By Dutchie | 28 July 2010 1:44 AM

Around-the-world sailors always get into trouble in the Oceans around Australia and quess who pays for the rescues? Australia! A 14year old? Pure madness!!!

By Willy Blom | 28 July 2010 7:02 AM

Bob, I certainly hope my daugthers don't look up to Laura as an example. She is nothing but a spoilt little rich girl. She is not 'ordinary' by any means; which ordinary girl takes several thousand from their bank account and flies (or sails) to another country alone to sulk when she can't get her own way?

My son's friend will be competing in the Olympics next year. He is ordinary, and he's achieved it through his own hard work and dedication, NOT because of his parents' open cheque book.

Parenting is about setting guidelines and saying 'no' when their wellbeing is in danger - her parents have completely failed her in this regard, and now social services have too.

I hope the child survives. I hope she can fit in with her 'peers' once she's back from a year or more of isolation.

By osita | 28 July 2010 10:03 AM

I also think it's madness to allow this 14 yr old to go but if her parents agree, then so be it. There are enough people who jeopardise their own lives to worry about this individual case i.e. people who leap off tall buildings for kicks, who climb mountains, get stranded in deserts and caves, walk tightropes across waterfalls without safety harnesses, run with the bulls of Pampleno and plough their motorbike across 10 buses etc..all for the sake of thrills or to break a record. It's just a pity to read that someone perished because of their foolhardiness.

By kalajutu | 28 July 2010 11:12 AM

Sailing singlehanded around the world is a fabulous dream for any person to have (especially a young person). However wanting to be the "youngest" to do so just takes the edge off it somehow. A 14 year old can't drive or leave school to start full-time employment. It is negligence to allow her set sail around the world alone.

By Enid | 28 July 2010 11:51 AM

An insurance actuary should have been consulted instead of a family court judge. If an insurance company is prepared to insure Laura and her boat then she can go ahead. If not, she stays ashore...

By Bill Crompton | 28 July 2010 3:51 PM

The whole thing has been engineered for a publicity stunt and at the cost of a young woman, that's it!)Nice for the media, but that's about all...

By stevie | 28 July 2010 9:44 PM

osita ... A period of isolation from text messaging, video games and fast food would do millions of teens untold good.

By Bob from Seattle | 29 July 2010 7:23 AM

two year voyage? OMG!! best luck for her

By me | 29 July 2010 6:43 PM

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