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Dutch teen becomes youngest sailor to complete world tour alone

London, Sun, 22 Jan 2012 ANI

London, Jan 22 (ANI): A Dutch teenager, who landed on the harbour of the Caribbean island of St Maarten has become the youngest sailor to complete a solo tour of the world.


Laura Dekker, who is 16 years and four months old, set sail nearly a year ago to the day - Jan 20, 2011.


She has cut six months off the unofficial record set in 2010 by Australian teenager Jessica Watson, who was days away from her 17th birthday when she completed her own non-stop voyage.


Dekker's parents, Dick Dekker and Babs Muller, her grandparents and her sister Kim, as well as a 400-strong crowd of well-wishers - on shore and in small boats - welcomed her when she docked at 7pm on Saturday night.


"There were moments where I was like, 'What the hell am I doing out here?,' but I never wanted to stop," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.


"It's a dream, and I wanted to do it."


Dekker had to cope with weeks of solitude, ocean storms and fear of pirates while navigating and sailing a 38-foot yacht, all the time trying to keep up with her schoolwork.


But she will not be sailing into the record books.


After the controversy she caused when she announced she was going to try to break the record in a small boat aged just 13, Guinness World Records decided to stop recognising records for "youngest" sailors.


Dekker then fled abroad in 2010 when Dutch child welfare authorities took legal action to try to stop her making the voyage.


She later won a 10-month court battle, promising judges she would buy a bigger boat with advanced navigation equipment, take courses in first aid and coping with sleep deprivation, and enrol in a special correspondence school.


Unlike other youthful round-the-world sailors, Dekker made several stops at ports to ensure her vessel was properly maintained, and to brush up on her studies.


During her trip, she went surfing, scuba diving, cliff diving and discovered a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said in her weblog was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather. (ANI)


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