Laura Dekker's Lawyer on Fight to Sail around the World 'Sailing Means Everything to Her'

At the age of 13 most girls care about school, boys or make-up, but not Laura Dekker of the Netherlands. Last week, a Dutch court stymied her plan to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. SPIEGEL spoke to Dekker's lawyer, Peter de Lange, about her ambition.

SPIEGEL: A family court in Utrecht has temporarily banned Laura Dekker from sailing around the world solo, out of concern that she may endanger her health and development. What are you going to do about this?

De Lange: We have until Oct. 26 to answer a catalogue of questions -- about the route, the boat, the safety measures and risks involved -- given to us by the court. We will prove that the plan has been well thought out. Laura is happy that the court has not categorically banned her trip and has merely delayed its start.

SPIEGEL: Laura will be under state supervision until the end of October, during which time she will also be observed by a child psychologist. Her parents still say they would permit her to circumnavigate the globe on a solo sailing trip. Why?

De Lange: The court has clearly stated that it does not consider Dick Dekker to be a bad father. Initially her parents didn't want her to sail, but Laura eventually convinced them that it was her big dream. Her parents then set the condition that Laura had to take care organizing the boat, the money and sponsors herself.

SPIEGEL: But Laura is still a child -- at least that is how the court sees it. And it has requested a detailed psychological assessment of her by October.

De Lange: That's no problem. Laura is far more grown up than one would expect for her age. She's a top athlete and her sailing technique is excellent.

SPIEGEL: Why would a girl of 13 even want to sail around the world in the first place?

De Lange: Laura spent the first four years of her life at sea. Sailing means everything to her. Three months ago, Laura already sailed to England and back alone.

SPIEGEL: But isn't her real goal to break the world record of being the youngest person to sail around the world solo?

De Lange: No. Laura wants to discover the world. She wants to moor in different harbors in order to get to know countries and people. Breaking a record would just be an extra perk.


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