Please select your home edition
Edition
Allen Brothers

Laura Dekker, 16-year-old super solo sailor, on her final leg

by Nancy Knudsen on 16 Dec 2011
Capetown goodbye - photo from Jetsetting Magazine SW
Laura Dekker, Dutch/New Zealander 16-year-old solo sailor, who is circumnavigating the globe in her 38ft Jeanneau Ginfizz ketch, Guppy, has left Cape Town on the last long leg across the Atlantic which, all going well, will complete her circumnavigation.

Reaching Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, which she left on 5th January 2011, will make her the world's youngest ever circumnavigator.

However, a vicarious association with Laura over a long period of time (she first hit the headlines when she sailed the English Channel at the age of 13 and on arrival was promptly deposited in a Children's Home) suggests that the adventure she has undertaken is much more about the journey and less about the glory.

The voyage she has now undertaken, perhaps with stops at islands along the way is a journey of some 4000 nautical miles and perhaps the most challenging. (See map and apologies for the art work - Laura is not likely to clip off the edge of South America.) Her yacht Guppy has performed creditably along the journey with little serious trouble since she left Gibraltar in September 2010.

This does not mean that her journey has been any easy one. She has battled storms and high winds, long periods of serious sleep deprivation and blown out sails. 'On the one leg I blew my Genoa and Main sail which was challenging as I limped to the next port so I could get up and running again.'

The proven sturdiness of Guppy can be thanks to the work she and her father put into making her strong enough for the long miles she was planning. 'I picked Guppy up incredibly cheap, she was a wreck. With a lot of help from my dad, we did her up to the magnificent ocean crossing vessel that she is today.'

It is perhaps not so strange that Laura has taken to a sea life. As she recounted in a recent interview with Sophie Thompson of East Coast Radio, 'When I was five my Dad packed my family up and we set sail from Whangarei in New Zealand, where I was born. We sailed all the way to Holland on my father’s boat. I believe that I am a doer and when I get an idea in my head, I usually strive to achieve it.'

Laura has been in Cape Town for several days, enjoying some leisure time and stocking up for this one last leg of her circumnavigation - but not the last leg of her journey. Once she reaches the Caribbean, she will continue through the Panama Canal for a second time and head back to New Zealand, which she missed last time round.

'I will make my way back to Whangarei in New Zealand where I hope to settle and maybe call home.'

Right now, after negotiating shipping channels and a very windy start from Capetown ('and the wind was from the wrong direction' she complained on her blog,) she is now becalmed until the next system passes through. 'I know the first 500nm will not be easy sailing', she says, but, in her typical low-key response, seems relaxed about 'toughing it out.'

Bon Voyage Laura!

To follow Laura's blog, go to her English language http://www.lauradekker.nl/English/Home.html!website.
................................

Did you like this article? If you are not a Sail-World subscriber already, did you know that you can keep up with all the news from the world of the cruising sailor with a weekly news hit? It's totally free, as all our income is from the advertisers.

Once you subscribe, all the non-racing news comes to you in one easy to read news magazine, right to your inbox. AND it's up to date, so you don't have to wait for the end of the month to find out what's going on. You can even subscribe a friend. http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/newsletter_subscribe.cfm!Click_here_now!

Auck Boat Show - Launch 728x90 BOTTOMGul 2020 FOOTERZhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom FOOTER

Related Articles

How will they set the (dis) comfort cursor?
The challenges of trying to live and run a foiling IMOCA to the maximum After finishing second in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race Charlie Dalin pulled no punches when he described the challenges of trying to live and to operate to the maximum on board his foiler APIVIA.
Posted today at 8:24 am
America's Cup Rialto: Defiant's 'glamour day'
After a batten failure, American Magic headed back out for a three hour plus sail on a 'glamour day' After losing an hour or so through gear failure, American Magic headed back out onto the Waitemata for a training session out on Course E - between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island, otherwise known as "The Paddock".
Posted today at 2:50 am
World Sailing AGM to be held electronically
Plus nominations are open for election of Board of Directors World Sailing will hold its 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and General Assembly electronically, due to the global challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted on 5 Aug
Atlantic Crossing OBR Report #1
Onboard update from Amory as the team closes out their third day at sea Onboard update from Amory Ross as the team closes out their third day at sea for their Atlantic crossing training sail from France to Newport, RI.
Posted on 5 Aug
Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century jury named
Special edition will reward the best films from 2000 to today! Two women and four men make up the international jury of the Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century: Ludovica Anti, Martina Orsini, Rob Peake, Gary Jobson, Nicolas Mirabaud and Rob Faris.
Posted on 5 Aug
David Sussmann debriefs the Pure Ocean Challenge
A Q&A with David Sussmann about his experiences in the 2020 Pure Ocean Challenge I checked in with David Sussmann, founder of Pure Ocean, via email, to learn more about his experiences, observations, and data-collection efforts during the 2020 Pure Ocean Challenge.
Posted on 5 Aug
Zhik appoints Plastimo as distributor
To expand trading in France, Belgium and the French domestic territories Zhik is proud to announce a collaboration with Plastimo, the prestigious marine industry safety manufacturer and equipment wholesaler, as their new distributor for France, Belgium and the French domestic territories.
Posted on 5 Aug
America's Cup: Arb Panel rules on CIC application
The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has ruled on the Stars + Stripes' application The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has rules against the application made to it by the US Challenger Stars + Stripes Team USA.
Posted on 5 Aug
San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta preview
Third running of event limited to single-handed classes The San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta was established in 2018 to provide sailors of all ages with a venue to train and compete in international, high performance classes.
Posted on 4 Aug
Edgartown Race Weekend's Round-the-Island Race
Former Secretary of State John Kerry wins Venona Trophy Former Secretary of State John Kerry (Chilmark, Mass.) claimed the coveted Venona Trophy at Edgartown Race Weekend's 82nd 'Round-the-Island Race, sailing his classic Alden Cutter 44 Lark to win his class
Posted on 4 Aug