Laura Dekker, Youngest to Sail Around The World
We were privileged to listen to Laura speak at the Otago Yacht Club prize giving on Saturday 22 June. Small in stature but enormous in fir fulling life's dreams on the sea. At 16, after a one year solo circle navigation of the globe on her yacht 'Guppy' she told us helming super yachts was her next dream.
Laura has dual Dutch and New Zealand citizenship. She was born while travelling through NZ on her family yacht. Laura has grown up and lived on yachts all her life and Guppy, a 12.3m Jeaneau Gin Fizz ketch, is now her home in Whangarei.
It has been no easy trip for Laura due to the Dutch authorities intervening and trying to stop Laura leaving on her yacht and missing schooling at such a young age. She told us that while she did her best to complete school work, the experiences during the one year voyage were far more educational. With no sponsorship, Laura took on all the maintenance and repairs herself. While she had learnt many skills from her father who built many yachts, much of her learning was done during the voyage, because she had to.
"I much prefer a storm to being becalmed for days" said Laura. "I was too busy dealing with the yacht in rough seas to worry about any danger, it was only afterwards when there was time to reflect that the reality of some situations hit home".
It would be easy to view Laura's initial intentions to sail around the world as stupid and dangerous. Obviously she has proved to many that she can achieve her dreams. What showed from her talk at OYC was that her trip was not done for the benefit of others, to impress or show off, it was about her dream, a step in Laura's life. One she choose for herself!
While many found her solo voyage around the world talk inspirational there was a greater sense of things to come. We wish you all the best Laura and I know I am not the only person to feel proud having such and adventurer hoist the NZ flag!
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