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Dutch teenager starts solo sailing trip around the world

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old Dutch sailor, has begun her trip to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. It comes after a lengthy court battle in the Netherlands to get permission to sail at that age.

Laura Dekker

Dekker says she is not afraid to go it alone

Dutch teenager Laura Dekker has started her solo sailing trip around the world at the age of 14, with the intention of becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

There are conflicting reports on where she started her journey from on Saturday. Some reports say she sailed from Gibraltar, others says she set off from the south cost of Portugal.

Dekker ran into problems with Portuguese authorities, as it is against the law in Portugal for a minor to sail alone.

Legthy court battle

Back home in the Netherlands, Dekker won a court case at the end of July that allowed her to make the trip alone. Dutch child welfare authorities had tried to prevent the voyage, insisting that it would stunt Dekker's social and emotional development.

The teenager wants to break the record currently held by Australia's Jessica Watson, who completed her non-stop round-the-world sailing trip shortly before her 17th birthday on May 15 of this year.

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson is the one to beat

Dekker would have to complete her trip before September 16, 2012 to steal Watson's crown.

Born in New Zealand during a round-the-world sailing trip by her parents, Dekker completed her first solo voyage, to the northern Netherlands, at the age of 11.

In June, American teenager Abby Sunderland had to be rescued during her bid to sail solo around the world when the mast on her yacht snapped during rough weather in the Indian Ocean on June 10.

She was rescued two days later by a small French fishing vessel after she was spotted in a remote corner of the ocean by an Australian plane.

Her parents faced harsh criticism for allowing her to make the trip, but Sunderland has defended her voyage and thanked them for their support.

Author: Nicole Goebel (SID/AFP/dpa)
Editor: Kyle James

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