Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

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Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby The Reaper » Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:32 pm UTC

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id ... _article=1
Dutch teen Laura Dekker on Saturday became the youngest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world, a year after going to court for the right to make the attempt.

The 16-year-old completed her solo round-the-world journey when she sailed into harbour on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT).

Dekker, who left the island nearly a year ago to the day -- January 20, 2011 -- beat the previous record by some eight months.

As she turns 17 on September 20, she had to complete her journey before September 16 to beat the record for the youngest sailor to make an unassisted world tour.

Her parents and a 400-strong crowd of well-wishers -- on shore and in small boats -- welcomed the teen, dressed in a tee-shirt and beige shorts.

Just to get to the starting line, Dekker had to fight her way through the Dutch courts, who at first blocked plans for her to cast off a year earlier -- when she was just 14.

The court ordered her placed in the care of welfare officers on the grounds that she was too young to guarantee her safety at sea.

She ran away to Sint Maarten, an island of the Lesser Antilles divided between France and the Netherlands, and police had to escort her back home.

She finally won her court battle with Dutch child welfare authorities in July 2010 -- after 10 months -- and set sail, originally from Gibraltar on August 21, 2010 in her yacht Guppy.

But a change of her planned course led her to make the starting point from her trip Sint Maarten instead.

Born on a boat in New Zealand of a seafaring family, Dekker also lived on a boat in the Netherlands with her father Dick and dog Spot before setting out on her voyage.

The previous record holder was Australian Jessica Watson, who achieved it in May 2010, three days before she turned 17.

But unlike Watson, who circumnavigated non-stop, Dekker sailed from port-to-port and was never at sea for more than three weeks.

Dekker's achievement will not be entered in the Guinness Book of World Records however, as it has refused to recognise records by minors which are considered "unsuitable."

Neither will the World Sailing Speed Record Council -- the official body that validates such records -- acknowledge the feat.

"All that matters is speed, we don't do any personal records, age doesn't matter," John Reed, the council's secretary, told AFP.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Panonadin » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:44 pm UTC

It kind of sucks that they wont give her any published recognition in those sources. I guess the article will always exist.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Angua » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:48 pm UTC

No doubt it's to try and stop parents from exploiting (maybe too strong a word - how about over-encouraging) their children as you're eventually going to end up with someone who is too young to it and will die in the attempt.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby yurell » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:51 pm UTC

Neither will the World Sailing Speed Record Council -- the official body that validates such records -- acknowledge the feat.

"All that matters is speed, we don't do any personal records, age doesn't matter," John Reed, the council's secretary, told AFP.


I think that's a perfectly reasonable statement.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Diadem » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:02 am UTC

yurell wrote:
Neither will the World Sailing Speed Record Council -- the official body that validates such records -- acknowledge the feat.

"All that matters is speed, we don't do any personal records, age doesn't matter," John Reed, the council's secretary, told AFP.


I think that's a perfectly reasonable statement.

It would have been, if they hadn't changed the rules just a few days ago specifically to be able to exclude her.


Anyway, this has been a very interesting story, that has been the focus of a lot of media attention in The Netherlands. I can only congratulate her though.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby buddy431 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:56 am UTC

We have had two previous threads on this:

http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=44281

http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=54302

Congratulations are in order, I guess. Do we think it was appropriate for the Dutch government to delay her start until she was more ready for it?
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Ulc » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:18 am UTC

Diadem wrote:It would have been, if they hadn't changed the rules just a few days ago specifically to be able to exclude her.


I don't even think that's unreasonable as far as it goes, minors doing really dangerous things to get in record books are really not something we should encourage. Not because individual minors can't be responsible enough, but for the ones that aren't. And as Angua mentions, parents can be overly ambitious on behalf of their children as well and pressure them into something they aren't ready for.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby yurell » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:23 am UTC

I'm afraid I agree with Ulc in this matter. I think it's a perfectly reasonable and responsible decision made by the organisation.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Hemmers » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:28 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
yurell wrote:
Neither will the World Sailing Speed Record Council -- the official body that validates such records -- acknowledge the feat.

"All that matters is speed, we don't do any personal records, age doesn't matter," John Reed, the council's secretary, told AFP.


I think that's a perfectly reasonable statement.

It would have been, if they hadn't changed the rules just a few days ago specifically to be able to exclude her.


Even if the Sailing Speed Council has only just changed, certainly the Guinness Book of World Records (which de facto is really the one that matters) don't do "Youngest Ever" records. There was a girl trying to be youngest to fly across the US a while back who crashed and died, they haven't held youngest records since at least then and possibly for longer, specifically to discourage pushy parents.


I'd say congrats to Ms Dekker. I'm not sure in her case whether it was really necessary to delay her - she's not a regular kid who enjoys sailing. She was born on the water whilst her parents were on a 5-year RTW trip, and has probably spent as much of her life on the water as off it. She's got more experience sailing than most people twice her age.

Also, it's worth noting that she didn't do the classic RTW route (down to the Southern Ocean, round Antarctica and back up). She went through the Panama Canal in preference to going around Cape Horn and kept up and out of the murderous Southern Ocean. She also started and finished in the Caribbean which is a shorter route than the standard point off Cornwall, England. Also, although the sailing was all solo, it was not non-stop, she pulled in and had nights in harbour with no single stretch at sea longer than 3 weeks.

Certainly a challenging sail (more than I could manage) and not without dangers, but much safer and less daunting than the normal non-stop route.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Arrian » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

Ulc wrote:
Diadem wrote:It would have been, if they hadn't changed the rules just a few days ago specifically to be able to exclude her.


I don't even think that's unreasonable as far as it goes, minors doing really dangerous things to get in record books are really not something we should encourage. Not because individual minors can't be responsible enough, but for the ones that aren't. And as Angua mentions, parents can be overly ambitious on behalf of their children as well and pressure them into something they aren't ready for.


Isn't it exceptionally likely, especially for things like sailing and flying, so much training and such specific tools are required that by the time you can even start thinking about doing something like sailing around the world, you and your parents will be expert enough to judge your chances? Far more expert than someone from Guinness who has never even heard of you before your attempt, certainly. I think it's arrogant and misguided paternalism to assume simply because no record is officially recognized that you are somehow protecting children.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Angua » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:12 pm UTC

Arrian wrote:
Ulc wrote:
Diadem wrote:It would have been, if they hadn't changed the rules just a few days ago specifically to be able to exclude her.


I don't even think that's unreasonable as far as it goes, minors doing really dangerous things to get in record books are really not something we should encourage. Not because individual minors can't be responsible enough, but for the ones that aren't. And as Angua mentions, parents can be overly ambitious on behalf of their children as well and pressure them into something they aren't ready for.


Isn't it exceptionally likely, especially for things like sailing and flying, so much training and such specific tools are required that by the time you can even start thinking about doing something like sailing around the world, you and your parents will be expert enough to judge your chances? Far more expert than someone from Guinness who has never even heard of you before your attempt, certainly. I think it's arrogant and misguided paternalism to assume simply because no record is officially recognized that you are somehow protecting children.

It's more about not encouraging parents to push their children before they're fully ready. Sure, ideally the parents and child should all be comfortable in the knowledge that they are 100% competent, but if you factor in time-sensitive nature of a youngest person to do x record, then it is very easily conceivable for a parent to convince a child that they are in fact ready when they aren't (eg parents often try to get children to do stuff even when they're nervous about it - this can be a good thing for boosting confidence and helping children, but in this sort of record-breaking it isn't that great).
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby curtis95112 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:13 pm UTC

Arrian wrote:the time you can even start thinking about doing something like sailing around the world


You assume people will wait for this time before setting off. Unfortunately, incompetence often comes with ignorance of said incompetence.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

Arrian wrote:Isn't it exceptionally likely, especially for things like sailing and flying, so much training and such specific tools are required that by the time you can even start thinking about doing something like sailing around the world, you and your parents will be expert enough to judge your chances? Far more expert than someone from Guinness who has never even heard of you before your attempt, certainly. I think it's arrogant and misguided paternalism to assume simply because no record is officially recognized that you are somehow protecting children.

The problem is you’ll get people—parents and kids alike—with the mentality “We have to summit Mt Everest this summer to set the record” and they’ll try it even if they’re only, say, 75% ready, because it’s now-or-never, and they’ll convince themselves they’re 90% ready. I am perfectly okay with record-keeping organizations choosing not to keep “youngest” records.

However, I think the Dutch government was almost certainly wrong to prevent this girl from attempting the feat at age 14. As far as I know she was entirely capable at that time, and would’ve had no more difficulty than she did at age 15.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Arrian » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:49 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:The problem is you’ll get people—parents and kids alike—with the mentality “We have to summit Mt Everest this summer to set the record” and they’ll try it even if they’re only, say, 75% ready, because it’s now-or-never, and they’ll convince themselves they’re 90% ready. I am perfectly okay with record-keeping organizations choosing not to keep “youngest” records.

However, I think the Dutch government was almost certainly wrong to prevent this girl from attempting the feat at age 14. As far as I know she was entirely capable at that time, and would’ve had no more difficulty than she did at age 15.


Is there really any difference between what the Dutch government did and what Guinness did, aside from specificity? They both decided that they know better than the child and her parents whether or not she is ready to sail around the world.

As far as the "not encouraging them" argument goes, really? You think it really makes much of a difference whether the entry is in Guinness or on Wikipedia to people who are willing and able to invest the years of work and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars required for a round the world sailing trip? Yes, sailing around the world is dangerous, more so than simply sailing for a day or driving. (But do you know how dangerous?) But the people who attempt it certainly know the dangers. And simply sailing for the day or driving IS dangerous. Children die all the time in accidents, it's the nature of children human nature to take risks and push boundaries, but the difference between a kid driving too fast on an icy road and a child sailing around the world is that the latter has trained years for exactly that. I think you're misplacing your concern by worrying about this tiny number of people who attempt amazing things, especially when they can be used as examples of how you can do great things, but those things take tremendous amounts of work and dedication.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Griffin » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

Is there really any difference between what the Dutch government did and what Guinness did, aside from specificity? They both decided that they know better than the child and her parents whether or not she is ready to sail around the world.


Uh... hell yes? "We don't track this sort of record, because we don't want to encourage stupid people, but if you want to do it, go for it, we won't stop you" and "we will actively prevent you from attempting this even if we have to sic our security forces on you, regardless of how prepared you are and willing to accept the risks, because we know better than you." are very, very, VERY different things.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Tirian » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:58 pm UTC

There is a natural check on flying, which is that you need to have a state-issued pilot's license. Anyone can pilot a ship, so long as you have a ship.

I think that private organizations clearly deserve the right to certify whatever accomplishments they wish. I would have trouble sleeping at night if I knew that I was providing the extrinsic motivation for someone to behave recklessly. If you have an unstoppable drive to do something, then it shouldn't particularly bother you that Guinness doesn't want to be there at the finish line with a cookie for you. I'm not crazy about speed records either as that shouldn't be what goes on in your mind when you're thinking about whether and how to cross the particularly perilous and season-sensitive legs of the trip, but youth records are especially troublesome in that you KNOW that you can't suspend this trip and try again in two years for more favorable conditions.

I'm less certain about state-based restrictions, but I'll throw a thought into the mix. We're no longer living in times where unfortunate sailors merely disappear on the high seas. When a sailor puts out a distress signal, the rest of the world is morally obliged to take on the risk and expense to answer it. I don't find it unreasonable for the community to demand that someone be of the age of consent before risking not just their own life with willful indifference but someone else's as well.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Dauric » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:08 pm UTC

Arrian wrote:As far as the "not encouraging them" argument goes, really? You think it really makes much of a difference whether the entry is in Guinness or on Wikipedia to people who are willing and able to invest the years of work and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars required for a round the world sailing trip? Yes, sailing around the world is dangerous, more so than simply sailing for a day or driving. (But do you know how dangerous?) But the people who attempt it certainly know the dangers. And simply sailing for the day or driving IS dangerous. Children die all the time in accidents, it's the nature of children human nature to take risks and push boundaries, but the difference between a kid driving too fast on an icy road and a child sailing around the world is that the latter has trained years for exactly that. I think you're misplacing your concern by worrying about this tiny number of people who attempt amazing things, especially when they can be used as examples of how you can do great things, but those things take tremendous amounts of work and dedication.


Not to shotgun your exceptional image of humanity but, uhm... Darwin Awards.

Not that people are incapable of doing great things as individuals, but there's lots of people out there that when presented with someone who's done something amazing go "I can totally do that", and then proceed to make the attempt with a total lack of planning or knowledge.

Like Adelir Antonio who tried to replicate the 1982 Lawn Chair Balloon Flight, however having purchased a GPS to tell his position, was unable to actually -use- the GPS do direct rescuers to his position when he drifted out to open water.

The thing is that for every prepared, educated, and skilled person that does something successfully, there are an unknown number of others who attempt the same or similar feats with little or no preparation, -and we never hear about them- because in so small part when they fail they become just another statistic on a coroner's report.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for allowing people to take whatever risks they desire at whatever level of expertise and preparedness they do or don't have, Darwin and his Chainsaw of Natural Selection will have a word with them under (in)appropriate circumstances. However let's be honest with ourselves, Darwin Awards (and TV shows like World's Dumbest", and the entire genre of 'shocking video' shows...) is not in danger of running out of material, people do get themselves killed doing dangerous activities with a lack of forethought and an excess of machismo.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:17 pm UTC

Thank you Griffin and Dauric.

Arrian wrote:As far as the "not encouraging them" argument goes, really? You think it really makes much of a difference whether the entry is in Guinness or on Wikipedia to people who are willing and able to invest the years of work and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars required for a round the world sailing trip?

It may not matter to the individuals making the attempts, but it certainly matters to the people at Guinness, who want to be able to say, “I am not personally responsible for encouraging this.”

Tirian wrote:I'm less certain about state-based restrictions, but I'll throw a thought into the mix. We're no longer living in times where unfortunate sailors merely disappear on the high seas. When a sailor puts out a distress signal, the rest of the world is morally obliged to take on the risk and expense to answer it. I don't find it unreasonable for the community to demand that someone be of the age of consent before risking not just their own life with willful indifference but someone else's as well.

That’s a reasonable position, though I would say the age of responsibility ought to be lower than 18 for things like taking risks, getting a job, and voting, perhaps to around 13 or 14. Furthermore, there ought to be ways to get parent-approved waivers (though not for voting I suppose).
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby addams » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:05 pm UTC

If, this is true, then, this young woman has done an amazing thing.

I don't care what book or list of records it ends up in. She and the persons that care about her will not care either.

This young woman as done an amazing thing. I have seen the Ocean. I have seen a few of them. I know the taste and smell of salt water. One small craft out there sailing with one small human being on it. I am so very impressed.

This girl is an elite. No one else needs to know or acknowledge it. Those of us that have seen the sea are impressed.

Thank you for bringing the story forward. Please; Do not do this on a whim. She must be highly skilled and Lucky. Sailors are a very superstitious bunch, for good reason.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby yurell » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:50 pm UTC

Hang on, there's a good reason for them to be superstitious? "Well, guess we better not let women on board because that will make the ocean jealous. So let's see how deep we can ingrain sexism before giving up this well-reasoned superstitions."

They're superstitious* for a bad reason, in that they believe their arcane nonsense will help them against real dangers.

*'They're' being superstitious sailors, not all sailors.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Antior » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:49 am UTC

I am Dutch. I think I can add a few things to this conversation.

First of all, let me say that this girl, the 'fight' against the state-owned organisation (that mainly exists to help children in a large number of cases, such as when they are abused, when there are strong indications their parents do not care about them or cannot handle the responsibility of raising children, etc.) and her tour has been in the news a LOT. The exposure she got because of all this stuff got really annoying for many Dutch people.

Secondly, she and her father tried a lot of semi-legal tricks to get her out of Dutch compulsory education, which is how the state got on her track. In the end, when she DID go, she 'attended' some kind of long-distance Dutch school using the internet to get a daily portion of homework. She stopped doing that after a while, she said she didn't have time because she had to focus on sailing, and a week or so before she finished the tour, the state organisation raised their concerns about her.

Because of that, she changed the Dutch flag on her boat for a New Zealand flag (she's planning to emigrate to New Zealand, I guess she got to hate the Dutch state).

I have a bit ambigious feelings about this case. I think (basic) education is important for everyone. I also know that there are a lot of youth 'professional' sportsmen in Holland, and they all seem to find time to do their education and finish their exams. I don't like using tricks to get past laws, and when her father was in the news I didn't really like his attitude in general

Then again, Laura got an unique experience and missing a part of education won't kill her.

The big question raised by this case is how important is it for education to be compulsory, and to what age. That's a whole discussion of itself and I think I won't get into that for now.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby addams » Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:04 pm UTC

yurell wrote:Hang on, there's a good reason for them to be superstitious? "Well, guess we better not let women on board because that will make the ocean jealous. So let's see how deep we can ingrain sexism before giving up this well-reasoned superstitions."

They're superstitious* for a bad reason, in that they believe their arcane nonsense will help them against real dangers.

*'They're' being superstitious sailors, not all sailors.


You are absolutely right. Superstitions are a bad idea. But; I, kind of, understand them.
People feel powerless. The size of the Ocean is intimidating. Poof! A superstition pops up.
Superstitions are a terrible idea. But; I have been around so many that I am used to them.

Sometimes there is a very fine line between superstition, tradition and good scientific sense. Sometimes, it all gets mixed together on a boat.
I am creeping myself out here. The Ocean, kind of, scares me. That is one brave young woman.

She is an exception. Some people are exceptions. They have to break the rules that hold the rest of us in a web of security. She, just, had to.

Now; She must get on with the rest of her life. She has a family and social support. She will do fine. She is not a helpless young woman that can not read, write nor speak her own language. You might be surprised how much of that still goes on.

Yes. Education had its own thread here for a while. Maybe; I should go find it.
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Re: Dutch teen sailor completes solo world tour

Postby Diadem » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:24 am UTC

Antior wrote:I am Dutch. I think I can add a few things to this conversation.

First of all, let me say that this girl, the 'fight' against the state-owned organisation (that mainly exists to help children in a large number of cases, such as when they are abused, when there are strong indications their parents do not care about them or cannot handle the responsibility of raising children, etc.) and her tour has been in the news a LOT. The exposure she got because of all this stuff got really annoying for many Dutch people.

Yeah. Many people seem to consider her to be a bit of an attention-whore. I think this is undeserved. It's hardly her fault the case garnered so much media attention. Though the endless media hype did get annoying at times. But the media endlessly driveling on about something that in the grand scheme of things is utterly unimportant is hardly new.

Secondly, she and her father tried a lot of semi-legal tricks to get her out of Dutch compulsory education, which is how the state got on her track. In the end, when she DID go, she 'attended' some kind of long-distance Dutch school using the internet to get a daily portion of homework. She stopped doing that after a while, she said she didn't have time because she had to focus on sailing, and a week or so before she finished the tour, the state organisation raised their concerns about her.

The Dutch child protection agencies have a long history over being overzealous in cases where it's completely unneeded, and at the same time spectacularly failing when their involvement is needed. I guess in that they are fairly typical bureaucracies in that regard. This is one of those cases where they were way too overzealous. Sure "Should minors be allowed to skip school for stuff like this" is an interesting question. But the circus that was created around the issues clearly wasn't in her interest at all. It probably ruined her childhood much more than missing a few years of education ever could.
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