Teen sailor Laura Dekker lashes out against media
by Pete Thomas Outdoors on 6 Apr 2011
Pete Thomas, author of the online eMagazine, 'Outdoors', writes about the 15-year-old Dutch/New Zealander solo sailor who has sailed from Europe across the Atlantic as part of her planned circumnavigation:
15-year-old Laura Dekker has already sailed her ketch-rigged Jeanneau Gin Fizz, Guppy, across the Atlantic .. .
Laura Dekker, the 15-year-old Dutch adventurer who is preparing to cross the Pacific as part of an effort to become the youngest sailor to solo-circumnavigate the planet, seems intent on turning even the most supportive of journalists against her.
It was clear before now that Dekker, who has spent the past several weeks in the Caribbean after an Atlantic crossing, is jaded toward the media. That's somewhat understandable, given the many critical news reports before and since her departure from Gibraltar last August.
But her latest blog entry might be perceived as the handiwork of a spoiled brat, not a courageous adventurer. Here are Dekker's comments, after a night crossing from San Blas Islands to Shelter Bay Marina in Panama:
'Early this morning I arrived in Panama, right into the thick of crowds of people and cargo ships. I have been busy non-stop since. The press people stood immediately in front of my nose, and because the Shelter Bay Marina sponsors me, I could not ignore them.
'They always ask me the same questions over and over again and are often clueless about me. This time, I even was asked my name... ! She really did not know, and I was so perplexed it took me a while before I could utter that my name is Laura.
'Sure I was tired after the night crossing, and now I really felt very tired of all the people around me pretending to be interested and knowledgeable about me. My good mood slowly faded to an inner anger that I always feel when people treat me like a celebrity. And then they often come up with the most mind-boggling or stupid questions.'
One could chalk this up to Dekker simply being irritable after a night of sailing, but it's not the first time she has used her blog to level criticism toward reporters.
Maybe she just needs to get on with her odyssey. An important question, whether she can safely pilot her 38-foot twin-masted sailboat across the Pacific, will be answered over the next few months.
That will be a true test of her maturity and, despite what she thinks of journalists, most will be pulling for her.
What you you think?
Should she be at home in school?
Or, given that she loves sailing and wants to sail around the world, maybe as the youngest ever, does that mean that she has to be nice to the media?
Does a heavily orchestrated PR campaign have to follow every adventurer?
How much of these teenage events is about money and fame and how much about the love of sailing and the ocean?
Laura Dekker, born on a boat and having lived on it for the first years of her life, only came to the notice of the world's media when she was forbidden to go sailing by authorities. Maybe she would rather, like Bernard Moitessier, Just keep sailing and disappear from the world stage. Or not?
What do you think?