Dutch teeager Laura Dekker on 21 January 2012 became the youngest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world.
The 16-year-old Dekker completed her solo round-the-world journey when she sailed into harbour on the Caribbean island of St Martin, which is shared by Netherlands and France. Dekker, who left the island on 20January 2011 surpassed the previous record by eight months. Dekker turns 17 on 20 September 20 and she had to complete her journey before September 16 to beat the record for the youngest sailor to make an unassisted world tour.
Dekker had to fight the Dutch courts, who at first blocked plans when she was just 14. The court ordered her placed in the care of welfare officers on the grounds that she was too young to guarantee her safety at sea. She had then run away to St Martin, and police had to escort her back.
She finally won her court battle with Dutch child welfare authorities in July 2010 and set sail, originally from Gibraltar on 21 August 21 2010 in her yacht Guppy. However, a change of her planned course led her to make the starting point from her trip St Martin instead.
However, the 27,000-nautical mile feat will not be recognised by Guinness World Records because the youngest solo sailor category was scrapped after after a series of court cases brought by the Dutch authorities to try to prevent Dekker setting off at 13 and at 14.
The previous record holder was Australian Jessica Watson, who achieved the feat in May 2010, three days before she turned 17.
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