Court Orders Lone Sailor Into Custody

Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) September 09, 2009 -- Even as seventeen year-old Mike Perham completes his round the world solo sail and claims his world breaking record, he is challenged by 13 year-old Laura Dekker.

Becoming the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe, with assistance, Perham sailed in an Open 50 foot racing yacht. He claimed the record off Thousand Oaks sailor Zac Sunderland, who was also 17. Sunderland sailed a 36 foot Islander. "Hopefully Mike has inspired numerous young people", Mike's father said, “To go and live life to the full".

The attempt to beat Mike Perham, by Dekker in her 26 foot yacht, has evoked questions in the Dutch parliament, as a tempest of controversy rages over the proposed solo attempt. Holland remains extensively divided on the issue, because of Dekker's age.

In a bid to prevent the 'risky venture' Child-protection agency officials went to court. Dekker's father says he has created a trip in such a way it would not put his daughter at sea for any more than 21 days at a time.

It was rumored Laura planned to leave Holland with her father, in order to avoid the prohibition on her solo journey. She has a New Zealand passport. Utrecht judges ordered Laura to be placed under state custody for two months, so as to make sure the around-the-world voyage will be stopped for now. The court has permitted Laura to remain living with her father.

An independent child psychologist is to evaluate Laura, so as to assess her mental ability. The fear is that the psychological and physical risks could prove too much. Long-term isolation could damage the young teenager's development at this point in time.

Laura's proposed plans were backed by sponsorship deals. However, Marja van Bijsterveldt-Viegenthart, the minister of state for education, responsible for enforcing the compulsory education Act, said "That without supervision by a competent adult, her self-study at the World School on the Internet, would amount to truancy".

Laura was born on a yacht off New Zealand and was sailing her own Optimist at age six. Authorities briefly arrested her earlier this year, when she sailed solo to England, telling her father to sail her home. Laura eventually sailed home alone, even though Dick Dekker flew to England.

The court will make a further ruling in two months time. Meanwhile, Australian Jessica Watson, aged 16 and Zac Sunderland’s sister, also 16, both plan to set sail for a nonstop try at the record.

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Press Release Submitted On: September 09, 2009 at 5:29 pm
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