AMSTERDAM — A 14-year-old Dutch girl who hopes to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo said Monday she will wait until the school year ends before starting her attempt.
Laura Dekker is awaiting a court’s decision on whether she can go ahead with her voyage or whether it would be too risky for a girl her age.
The Utrecht court temporarily blocked her departure in August out of concern for her safety. The decision sparked a worldwide debate on how much authorities and parents should limit children’s freedom to undertake risky adventures.
“Before I made the plan I didn’t expect (so much publicity) but now I’m trying to make the best of it,” she told NOS television in an interview Monday.
“It’s probably the most prudent if I just finish this school year” which ends in May, she said, citing the arrival of winter weather and a need for preparations before she departs on her 26-foot (8-meter) boat named “Guppy.”
Dekker was in court for a closed session Monday. The court is expected to issue its decision Friday.
Her lawyer told reporters after the hearing that the young sailor had received numerous sponsorship proposals, as well as offers to make a “reality television” show of her attempt.
Laura’s parents are divorced and she lives with her father, Dick Dekker, who supports her ambitions. However, Laura’s mother Babs Muller has said she considers Laura too young for the risky journey.
If Laura were to set off on the voyage and successfully complete it, she would break a record set this year by 17-year-old Mike Perham of Britain, who sailed 28,000 miles (45,000 kilometers) around the world in nine months.
A 16-year-old Australian girl, Jessica Watson, left Sydney earlier this month in a bid to beat Perham’s record.
Most of the court debate has centered not on Laura’s sailing ability but on the risks, including whether it would damage her psychological development to spend more than a year alone on a boat at her age.
Dekker’s parents are both sailors, and Laura spent her first four years on a boat. She was born in New Zealand.
She has been sailing solo since she was six and says she began dreaming of sailing around the world when she was 10.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.