Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Youngest solo circumnavigator - school but no Netherlands

by Nancy Knudsen on 27 Feb 2012
Laura in Bonaire .. .
What next for a sailor who finishes a circumnavigation at the age of 16? Australia's Jessica Watson became an instant celebrity, was made Young Australian of the year, endorsed multiple products, entered the world of racing by sailing a Sydney to Hobart. Dutch sailor Laura Dekker is just 'going back to school'. She is not even returning to her home country, which tried to prevent her journey.

Laura, now still continuing her studies on her boat in the Caribbean, is committed to school, but will probably stay in the Caribbean to finish her secondary schooling.

Since her departure a year ago Laura has been following a correspondence course of the Wereldschool ['World School', Lelystad, The Netherlands]. According to the school, Laura 'may restart on her studies at anytime she wants'. She has all the necessary books aboard and has been doing exactly the same as her peers ashore, however, during the last months of her trip Laura had apparently put her schooling on the backburner.

Laura can continue her schooling via the Wereldschool or at a normal school ashore. She said that she has definitely decided that she feels like going back to school. Typically, Laura added, 'Not because I have to do so. I never do anything because it has to be - I do it because I want it.'

In van Erp's opinion, expressed to Suzanne Docter in the Algemeen Dagblad, this will happen in the island of Bonaire where he is living with his wife and his two teenage kids.

'She already spent five weeks with us in early 2011 and it worked perfectly,' he told Algemeen Dagblad, 'There is a post-secondary school in Bonaire she can go to and she can have company with my kids. At the moment a student is living at our house and he could give her some extra lessons in chemistry, the only subject she is behind on.'

However it now emerges that Laura's father Dick Dekker, in the words of a school official in Goes, in the Dutch province of Zeeland, could be liable for a heavy fine. Apparently, in an effort to avert any likelyhood of the Dutch authorities chasing Laura across the world while she was sailing, he had deregistered her at the Dutch Registration Office. By precedent, he could be fined up to 1500 Euro for doing this before her 16th birthday, becoming a 'failed parent.'

Since Laura is 16 now she has no longer an obligation to attend school. Nevertheless, she has an obligation by law to receive a graduation before her 18th birthday. 'This will be very easy for her' van Erp said, 'She is not too far behind'.

So there are no major celebrations, no Young Dutch sailor of the year, no endorsements, no celebrity fame in her home country, no catapulting into a celebrity racing circuit. She is trying to write her book, there's a film being made, but these are small outcomes compared to the celebrity status that many others have been given for lesser achievements.

It could be that's the way she wants it...

Related Articles

From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted today at 7:26 pm
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted today at 3:09 pm
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
Laser creator Ian Bruce passes away (1933 - 2016)
Ian Bruce, driving force behind the Laser dinghy, sadly passed away at his daughter's home on Monday March 21 2016. Ian Bruce, driving force behind the Laser dinghy, sadly passed away at his daughter's home on Monday March 21 2016. His legacy to our sport, Canadian sailing and his beloved Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club will be praised and honoured for years to come.
Posted on 24 Mar
Naiad/Oracle SupplierSouthern Spars - 100Barz Optics - Floaters