Dutch sailor Laura Dekker may be moored for another year

Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:15pm EDT
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch welfare authorities on Tuesday requested a year's extension to their supervision of teenage sailor Laura Dekker, which could scuttle her plans to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo.

Dekker, 14, had intended to start a two-year solo voyage round the world in September 2009 financed by sponsors, but a court blocked her departure and placed her under state supervision, saying the trip was a risk to her safety.

Dutch child care authorities made their request for an extension at a court in Middelburg on Tuesday and a ruling is due on July 27.

Although her parents support the voyage, the Dutch state argues that Dekker's development, education and well-being would be at risk if she makes the attempt.

Dekker was born on her parents' yacht off New Zealand and also holds a New Zealand passport.

Last December, Dutch authorities ruled that Dekker should have more practice, attend school and wait until at least July this year before attempting her trip.

Last month, 16-year-old Abby Sunderland from California was rescued from the Indian Ocean during a round-the-world solo attempt after her mast snapped.

Seventeen-year-old Briton Mike Perham became the youngest person to sail round the globe single-handed in 2009, a voyage that took nine months.

In May this year, Australian teenager Jessica Watson completed a non-stop and unassisted round-the-world trip at the age of 16, but her voyage did not qualify officially as a record because of the route and length of her voyage.

(Reporting by Reed Stevenson; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

<p>Dick Dekker, father of Dutch teenage sailor Laura Dekker whose round-the-world voyage was blocked by the courts, smiles while giving his statement to the media at the courtroom in Utrecht, the Netherlands December 23, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Kooren</p>