Sailing is like any other passion.
The truly great have been born both with a higher aptitude and the benefi t of having mentors that supported their drive.
Laura’s parents were cruising the world when Laura was born during a stop in New Zealand. She spent the fi rst fi ve years of her life cruising on a sailboat.
After the family returned to the Netherlands, she sailed and raced with her dad. At the age of 6, Laura’s dad bought her fi rst boat, an optimist sailing dinghy. She would sail it solo while dad windsurfed alongside.
When Laura was 8, she read Tania Aebi’s book, Maiden Voyage, the inspirational story of Aebi’s own solo circumnavigation.
I can tell you from personal experience, this book will make a certain kind of kid want to sail around the world.
When she was 11, Laura took a family friend’s Hurley 700, a 23-foot cruiser, on a seven-week summer sailing tour around Holland and the Wadden Sea. She wasn’t solo this time; she brought her dog, Spot.
That winter Laura found her own Hurley 700.
With a loan from her dad, she bought that boat and spent the summer of her thirteenth birthday cruising around the Netherlands.
Laura saved her money from working various jobs so she could someday accomplish her dream sailing voyage. It’s the way a lot of us went about it…except for the age thing.
When not at school, Laura prepared and trained for sailing’s greatest challenge and adventure: a solo circumnavigation.
Laura Dekker I read in diff erent places that Laura’s dad encouraged her to do the hard sail to England to possibly discourage her from her very ambitious dream.
When I asked her about it, Laura corrected this point: “My dad didn’t actually encourage me to sail to England, I sailed there in secret because I didn’t think my parents would allow me.
The police there then put me in custody, and my dad picked me up. He then encouraged me to sail back to Holland though :)”
It was 2009, when she was 14 years old, that Laura announced her intention to sail around the world.
The Dutch government was not excited about Laura departing from the Netherlands solo at her age and was able to delay her departure by ten months. And they had another stipulation: she needed to get a better boat.
Laura Dekker So, Laura and her dad found an old 37- foot Jeanneau sailing ketch.
A partial refi t ensued. She named the boat Guppy, the name that she had chosen for all of her prior boats.
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