Only days after the French trimaran ‘Banque Populaire V’ became the new outright ‘Fastest Circumnavigator’ with a time of 45-days skippered by Loick Peyron from France and Australian Jon Sanders: ‘World Distance Record-holder’ finished his 8th round-the-world today, yesterday – the flying 16-year-old Dutchwoman Laura Dekker finished to become the new youngest solo circumnavigator reducing Australian Jessica Watson’s reference by six-months. While Laura went with stops, it is the new absolute reference for age @ – congratulations!!!
A year after her journey began, teenager Laura Dekker has achieved her goal of sailing solo around the world. Arriving in St Maarten this weekend at 16 years and 123 days of age, the Dutch girl cut six months off the record set in 2010 by Australian teenager Jessica Watson, who completed her non-stop voyage around the world just days away from her 17th birthday.
However, unlike Jessica Watson’s voyage, Laura Dekker’s longer route did not sail non-stop around the world. She made many ports along the way, seeming to enjoy the journey as much as, or perhaps even more than, reaching her ultimate destination. During the year YachtPals kept receiving reports of Laura at cruisers’ potlucks and parties, and it seems several of our readers around the globe were able to enjoy some quality time with the young explorer before she headed back out to sea. Without exception, all reports were that the young Miss Dekker is humble, friendly, and very welcome in the cruising community.
As we have pointed out during previous around the world sailing record attempts by teenagers, Laura Dekker has gained no official record during this trip, and was not in fact subject to any of the scrutiny that adult world record holders must face. However, there is no denying that this tenacious teenager has met her own goal, against formidable obstacles – with the most challenging being the protests by her own government. In fact, young Miss Dekker has faced so much opposition over her intended adventures from Dutch authorities that she says she may not to return to her home country.
“The Dutch government was not kind to me,” Laura Dekker wrote on her blog last week. “It was never my intention to be the center of world news. From the moment my plans became public, Youth Care and other government organisations tried to stop me. During the first court case, in August 2009 they asked the judge to take me away from my father and to lock me up in a secure clinic. Now, after sailing around the world, with difficult port approaches, storms, dangerous reefs, and the full responsibility of keeping myself and Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organisations put me through, were totally unfair. I am seriously thinking about not returning to the Netherlands. Of course I will discuss this with my parents.”
Wherever she ends up, one thing is for certain: Laura Dekker is a grand mariner at the age of 16, and we have no doubt she will look back on her experiences sailing around the world on her 38 foot boat Guppy for the rest of her life – a voyage that was both joyful, and at times traumatic. “There were moments where I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing out here?’ but I never wanted to stop,” Laura Dekker said upon arriving on the Caribbean island of St Maarten on Saturday, adding with a smile: “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.”
by Kim Hampton for YachtPals.com