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October 31, 2009

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Dutch teen sailor still stuck in port

A DUTCH court yesterday extended state supervision for a 14-year-old Dutch girl who had planned to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world until next July.

Laura Dekker, who was born on her parents' boat in New Zealand and spent the first four years of her life at sea, intended to start a two-year solo voyage on September 1 on her 8.3-meter yacht Guppy when she was still 13.

But a court blocked her departure and placed her under supervision after child welfare authorities said it would be irresponsible at that age.

In its review of the original decision in late August, the court in Utrecht yesterday said the trip posed risks to Dekker's safety. She turned 14 on September 20.

"The state supervision is aimed at protecting (Dekker) and assessing whether the trip would be adequately prepared," the court said in its ruling. It added the goal is to ensure that she does not set sail before it is reasonably safe.


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