Starting at the age of 14 Laura set off on a journey to sail solo around the world, with the blessing of her parents but not of the Dutch government. Laura completed her journey when she was 16 years old which made her the youngest person to ever sail around the world singlehanded.
Laura was born on the 20th of September 1995 in Whangarei, New Zealand during a seven year sailing trip by her parents. During these years laura's father worked as a boatbuilder and her mother as a street performer. As a family, they travelled for another 5 years before returning to Holland.
After laura's parents divorced in 2002, she stayed with her father, living in various places around Holland while he was building a new boat, a 60ft Norwegian cutter named ''Havorn''. Starting sailing alone at the age of 6 and upgrading boats as she got older, she sailed in competitive dinghy races as well as offshore later on. At the age of 10 she had upgraded to a Hurley 700. This is a 7m seaworthy boat laura bought herself from money earned by doing all kinds of different jobs. She sailed this boat solo around Holland and the North Sea. In May 2009 she sailed the Hurley 700 solo across to England. After that trip she was determined to achieve and realize her biggest dream. To sail around the world.
In 2009, She started seriously preparing for her dream. The Dutch government though, thought differently about her plans and a 10 month court battle began. In July 2010, custody over laura was given back to her parents and her journey began on the 21st of August 2010. She successfully completed her solo circumnavigation in '' Guppy" her 38ft Ketch arriving in Saint Maarten on the 21st of January 2012.
After she finished her round the world trip, Laura kept sailing. Instead of going back to Holland she followed her previous route through the Panama Canal and the Pacific heading towards New Zealand, where she arrived in Whangarei on the 2nd of September 2012. She worked for Dive! Tutukaka for a little while and then decided to explore her new home country a bit more traveling by car. Since then she has been traveling over land a lot, but has also worked up to her Yachtmaster Ocean certificate and has been doing several yacht deliveries besides some small adventures on Guppy around New Zealand. Laura still lives aboard Guppy in the Whangarei harbour together with her Husband Daniel.
Dutch girl (16) fulfils dream as youngest to sail round the world
THE CHANGE of flag on her modest sail boat said it all.
Dutch schoolgirl sailor Laura Dekker, who has fulfilled her dream to become the youngest round-the-world sailor, arrived late on Saturday on the Dutch Antillean Island of St Maarten in the Caribbean, a year and a day after starting her epic voyage and breaking all the records she set out to surpass.
But the red, white and blue flag representing the Netherlands which had fluttered at the stern of her 30-year-old yacht Guppy on her departure had been replaced by the flag of New Zealand. Born at sea on a yacht in New Zealand waters, Laura Dekker has joint Dutch and New Zealand citizenship.
Raising the New Zealand flag was a deliberate gesture, she later acknowledged, a sign of her anger and frustration at how she was treated by the Dutch authorities, who, she claims, did everything to destroy her dream.
It was 16-year-old Laura Dekker’s way of letting Dutch social services know what she really thought of them, highlighting the controversial battle over this particular bid to be the “youngest around the world”.
At the age of 13, Laura, supported by her father, had been about to set out to sail solo around the world, but at the last-minute alarm bells had sounded and Dutch child welfare officers were called in. A major controversy ensued with international media exposure for Laura amid scrutiny of her sailing skills and psychological state, parental control and other matters – leading to questions being asked in the Dutch parliament.
There was much soul-searching over the wisdom of parents allowing children to follow their dream, considering the dangers involved. In the end, Laura Dekker virtually became a ward of court. Then, just before her 15th birthday, she went back to court in the Netherlands and she and her lawyers convinced judges she was capable of sailing around the world unaided, could physically deal with all the pressures involved and had enough expertise and sufficient mental stamina to follow her dream.
Laura,s arduous court battle was a complicated one. After the authorities decreed that she should remain under the scrutiny of the youth welfare services when she was 14, she fled her home in a village near the city of Utrecht and, after an international police alert, turned up on the island of St Maarten – which has become the symbolic start and end point of her round-the-world voyage.
Earlier this month, truancy officers had issued Laura,s father with a summons claiming she had been failing to complete her school work. In fact, during her year at sea she managed to accomplish most of her class work, it has been confirmed.
The Dekker family’s lawyer Peter de Lange said: “Laura is doing her best, but the school knew before she set off that there would be times when she might not be able to meet the deadlines.”
Guinness Book of Records has scrapped all records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous atempts. Laura – who will write a book about her adventures over more than 27,000 nautical miles – said in her blog she was far more haunted by memories of Dutch social services threatening to lock her up again and again to stop her bid to sail around the world than she was scared of the threat of pirate kidnappings, treacherous seas or being shipwrecked.