Dutch teen nears completion of youngest sail around world

Jojo Doria – AHN Sports Contributor

Philipsburg, Saint Martin (AHN Sports) – Laura Dekker, who currently is trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, is just days from fulfilling the sailing feat.

The 16-year-old Dutch sailor estimates that she will reach the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in the next 12 days, according to a blog post Wednesday.

Dekker, who announced her plan in 2009 to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, left the Caribbean island in January 2011, after first sailing across the Atlantic from Portugal.

After battling controversies that dealt mostly with her age, Dekker embarked on a record-breaking voyage on Aug. 21, 2010 aboard her boat, “Guppy.”

The Dutch teen sailor, who has had many experiences at sea, starting from her birth in the city of Whangarei, New Zealand, during a seven-year trip by her parents, initially planned to make the historic trip on a Hurley 800, which was lent to her by a sponsor.

She eventually made the journey with a French-built 11.5-metre (38 ft) two-masted Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch that she and her father, Dick Dekker, acquired in February 2010.

Australian Jessica Watson currently holds the record for the youngest sail at 16 years and 362 days.

Dekker would have to finish before September 16 2012 to claim the new record.

To complete the final leg of a full circumnavigation of the world, Dekker will make a non-stop journey of 5,600 nautical miles (10,400 km; 6,400 mi) from Cape Town with an expected arrival at Saint Martin around Jan. 25, 2012.

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