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Laura Dekker honoured by OCC Award of Merit in New Zealand

by OCC/Sail-World Cruising on 3 Apr 2014
Laura Dekker arrives Sint Maarten 7 - Photograph courtesy of www.HeliPhotoCarib.com Heli Photo Carib www.HeliPhotoCarib.com
Laura Dekker, youngest ever solo circumnavigator, is to be honoured with the Award of Merit from the world wide Ocean Cruising Club in her birth city of Whangerai in New Zealand, by local members of the Ocean Cruising Club in a ceremony this coming Saturday, 5th April.

Laura was born to Dutch/German parents in Whangarei on 20 September 1995 and therefore holds Dutch, German and New Zealand citizenship. After spending the first four years of her life at sea, she continued sailing, owning her own boats from the age of six.

At the age of 13, she sailed the English Channel solo. On arrival authorities, seeing her age, immediately put her in a children's home and phoned her father to come and collect her to accompany her on her return voyage. He arrived to collect her, but she went back to the boat and sailed it home again solo.

In 2009, at the age of 14, she announced her plan to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed. A Dutch court stepped in, due to the objections of the local authorities, and prevented Dekker from departing while under shared custody of both her parents. In July 2010, a Dutch family court ended this custody arrangement, and the record breaking attempt finally began on 21 August 2010. Dekker successfully completed the solo circumnavigation in an 11.5-metre (38 ft) two-masted ketch, Guppym arriving in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten, on 21 January 2012.

On completion of her dream, instead of staying around for the world-wide applause which followed, she set sail again almost immediately to cross the Pacific once again to return to live in Whangarei, spurning The Netherlands because of the difficulties she had with them previously.

About the Ocean Cruising Club:
The Ocean Cruising Club is an international club for blue water cruisers. The distinctive blue and yellow burgee with a stylized Flying Fish is a welcome and respected sight in many anchorages around the world. Founded in 1954 by the late Humphrey Barton, the Club known affectionately as the OCC exists to promote long-distance cruising in all its forms, and has its administration centre in Britain. It has no premises, regarding the oceans of the world as its clubhouse. However, it enjoys visitors' rights with a number of major clubs world-wide.

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