Family Law

Dutch Court Backs Mom, Says 14 Is Too Young for Solo Global Sailing Trip


There’s no question that Laura Dekker is an accomplished sailor. And a psychological report says her social and emotional development wouldn’t be hindered by an around-the-world solo sailing trip.

But 14 is too young to make the journey, a Dutch court ruled today, especially without a more comprehensive set of safety equipment in her 26-foot yacht, reports the Associated Press.

To be sure that Dekker can’t make the trip until the time is right, Utrecht District Court placed her under the guardianship of child protection authorities until July. Although she will continue to live with her father, her parents must consult will authorities about major decisions, the news agency explains.

Her parents, who are both skilled sailors, are separated. Her father supports the solo trip; her mother has said she thinks her daughter is still too young and needs more safety equipment.

If Dekker circumnavigates the globe next year, at 15, she would still be the youngest person in the world to do so solo. The previous record, set by a 17-year-old from the United Kingdom, is now being challenged by a 16-year-old who set sail from Australia earlier this month.

Additional coverage:

DutchNews.nl: “Teen solo sailor Laura made a ward of court”

Reuters: “Dutch court extends supervision on young sailor”

London Times (commentary): “Laura Dekker has admirable ambition but lacks what she’ll need most”

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