Dutch 14-year-old attempting circumnavigation

Dutch 14-year-old Laura Dekker will leave Portimão, Portugal, tomorrow to begin her attempt to become the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator.

Her manager Peter Klarenbeek said the teenager was at sea today doing final equipment tests before leaving tomorrow on a journey that could take up to two years.

Dekker arrived in Portugal on her red-hulled, 11.5-metre ketch Guppy last Saturday with her father after a ten-day voyage from her native Netherlands.

She left Den Osse in the southwest Netherlands days after winning a 10-month court battle with child welfare authorities who had been trying to stop the voyage going ahead, because of fears for her safety and psychological health.

It is believed she chose to start and end her journey in Portugal, as Dutch law forbids children under the age of 16 skippering boats that measure more than seven metres.

Dekker turns 17 in Septmber 2012, leaving her with two years to complete the trip in order to beat the existing record, currently held by Australian Jessica Watson, who finished her non-stop, unassisted voyage in May.

Dekker plans to stop at several ports en route and will not round the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin or Cape Horn.

Subscribe to Yachting Monthly magazine for all the latest sailing news and reviews