Sailor, 16, ends round-world trip
Published 21/01/2012 | 21:33
A teenage sailor from the Netherlands has completed a year-long solo journey around the world.
Dozens of people cheered as Laura Dekker waved when she arrived in her ketch Guppy in the harbour of St Maarten, the Caribbean island from where she set out on January 20 2011.
Laura celebrated her 16th birthday during the trip and claims she is the youngest sailor to complete a round-the-world voyage.
Guinness World Records has said it will not back that up because it no longer recognises records for youngest sailors in order to discourage dangerous attempts. Several Dutch officials tried to block her trip, arguing that she was too young to risk her life and school authorities complained she should be in a classroom.
The last leg of the journey took Laura through high seas and heavy winds from Cape Town, South Africa.
She hugged her family and wept before addressing the crowd.
Laura said she was born on board a boat and first sailed solo at the age of six. At 10, she said, she began dreaming about circling the globe.
"Her story is just amazing," said one of her fans, 10-year-old Jody Bell, of Connecticut, US. "I can't imagine someone her age going out on sea all by herself."
Jody was in St Maarten on a work trip with her mother, Deena Merlen, a lawyer in Manhattan, who wanted to see Laura complete her journey. The pair wore T-shirts reading: "Guppy rocks my world".
"My daughter and I have been following Laura's story and we think it's amazing and inspiring," Ms Merlen said.