14-year-old Laura Dekker plans to set sail in two weeks after court decision
Dutch 14-year-old Laura Dekker plans to set sail in two weeks after a court ruled she was allowed to attempt a solo circumnavigation.
Last year the teenager was banned from tackling the voyage amid concerns for her safety and personal development.
Laura aims to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop around the world. She must complete the trip before she turns 17, in September 2012, if she is to break the record set in May by Jessica Watson, 16, of Australia.
Laura intends to spend about two years aboard her twin-masted 8m (26ft) boat, Guppy.
Her mother, who was opposed to the idea, has dropped her objections.
Judges at a Utrecht district court last October did not question the sailing skills of Laura, who was born on a yacht off New Zealand as her parents were circumnavigating the globe themselves. Laura reportedly had her first yacht aged six and began solo sailing aged 10.
The court did not approve of Laura’s loss of school-time while at sea. Further question marks over Laura’s suitability for the voyage lay with her safety plan and her lack of experience coping with the loss of sleep all long-distance solo sailors suffer.
The youngster was placed under state supervision, while living with her father, until the end of her school year in July 2010.
But she hit the headlines again three months later, when she disappeared for three days and was found safe on the island of St Maarten in the Caribbean. She had apparently flown there alone.
Now a court in Middelburg has lifted the guardianship order imposed last year, Laura reportedly wants to set sail in two weeks.
The news is likely to reignite a debate about ever-younger sailors attempting such a voyage, particularly following the rescue last month of another 16-year-old, Abby Sunderland from California, who was left drifting for two days mid-Indian Ocean after the mast on her boat snapped.
View a BBC news video clip featuring an interview with Laura here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10784383