Court says Dutch teenager Laura Dekker can set sail

Image caption,
Laura Dekker began sailing solo when she was 10 years old

A 14-year-old Dutch girl who wants to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world has won a court's permission to attempt the voyage.

The court in Middelburg lifted a guardianship order imposed last year, which placed Laura Dekker under the care of child protection services.

Laura must complete the two-year trip before she turns 17 in September 2012 to break the record.

Her mother has dropped her objections to the plan.

The Child Protection Council of Utrecht, in the central Netherlands, asked the Middelburg district court a week earlier than scheduled to extend the girl's supervision by 12 months, citing fears for her social and emotional development.

Last December, a court ruled that Laura could remain with her father, despite his support for her plan to sail solo round the world.

Born at sea

Laura has been under state supervision since last October, when the Utrecht court blocked her bid to become the youngest person to sail the globe solo.

In December, she breached a court order and ran away to the Dutch Antilles, where she was found and returned home.

The experienced sailor was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand during a seven-year world trip. She had her own yacht by the age of six and began sailing solo when she was 10.

Her father, Dick Dekker, supports her attempt at the record, but her mother had in the past expressed concerns.

Laura is planning to spend about two years aboard her 11.5m (38ft) boat, Guppy, to break the record set in May by Jessica Watson, 16, of Australia.

But the dangers she faces were highlighted by the rescue last month of another 16-year-old, Abby Sunderland from California.

The mast on her boat snapped, leaving her stranded for two days alone on the high seas until she was rescued by a fishing boat and brought to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

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