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September 7, 2009

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Mom opposes teen's sail quest

THE mother of a 13-year-old who hopes to become the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo has broken her silence, saying the voyage was too dangerous and her daughter was "not yet grown up" enough.

Babs Muller told the Volkskrant daily she has kept quiet until Saturday because her daughter, Laura Dekker, had threatened not to see her again if she stood in the way of the trip.

Laura's parents are divorced, and she lives with her father, Dick Dekker, who supports her ambition to set sail this year for a trip that would take two years.

A court last week ordered Laura placed in the custody of child care authorities for two months, and appointed a child psychologist to report on her capacity to cope with the risks of the voyage and possible harm of lengthy isolation.

A spokeswoman for Laura and her father said Muller's comments came as a surprising reversal. Muller had earlier told the child protection authorities that the trip was "scary," but she was not opposed, said Mariska Woertman.

The mother's opposition is likely to weigh heavily on the judge who must consent to the trip, since Laura would miss two years of mandatory schooling.

Muller told the paper Laura has the technical capability to make the trip, but that the teenager is not yet mature enough to deal with the psychological challenges of two years of being on her own.

"If it were up to me, Laura wouldn't go," Muller said.


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