American Abby Sunderland and Australian Jessica Watson are 16-year-olds who are both attempting to break the "youngest solo-circumnavigator" record. Is it cool that they’re out experiencing true adventure rather than hanging out at the mall with their friends? Or do you think they’re just 16-year-old girls who have been recklessly put up to break a record and grab some headlines?
And what about now 14-year-old Laura Dekker from the Netherlands? The courts originally ruled that she was too young to be allowed to make an attempt when she was 13, and she’s since run away from the state supervision that was put in place to stop her. The question we want to know is: Would you let your 16-year-old (not to mention your 13-year old) set off on something like this?
Let us know what you think.
Last edited by adminforum; 02-04-2010 at 02:05 PM.
Yes, and according to an article posted at sail-world.com (see the link below) Zac Sunderland's sister is now getting into the act. I think with all the advances in technology over the past decade or two, parents have gotten a little too comfortable with the idea of sending their kids to sea. Robin Graham used a sextant to navigate. Are these kids capable of navigating without the electronics? I doubt it. ...Jim
Only Laura and her parents should really be making that decision. It is a bad thing when governments get in the habit of telling folks what they can't accomplish.
It's a difficult one isn't it? Too much cheerleading and the realities of such an onerous undertaking can be trivialized, very dangerous.
It doesn't come down to age in my opinion. Last year we had the almost comic situation with Captain Heather Neil from Florida who was 'single handing around the world in a 24 foot Flicka', even in her 40's she was incapable, giving up less than 100 miles from the start with a damaged finger and no minutes left on her cell phone!
Then you get young Mike Perham who has just completed his circumnavigation at 17. Facing 50 foot waves and numerous mechanical breakdowns.
So does age matter?
What separates the stories of these people?
Experience. Real experience.
We seem to have made sailing almost too accessible. The common view is that anyone with sufficient funds and the right technology can attempt these challenges. Not so I would suggest. Single handing calls for a particular psychological makeup.
Could a girl of 13 do it? Maybe.
Would it be wise? Probably not.
As Libby Purvis, a well known UK journalist and sailor put it, girls entering puberty are not famous for their balanced view of life!
I am suspicious of the publicity seeking claims for being 'the first/youngest', what are the real reasons behind such an attempt?
My own daughter moved aboard her first boat, alone, aged 16. Three years later after rebuilding the vessel she realised that far from wanting to sail the world alone she really wanted company and felt that she was not self reliant enough to take on the challenge that she had been raring to do at 16.
There is a vast difference from the excitement of preparing a voyage, surrounded by supporters, family and friends to the reality of being out there alone for weeks on end, tired, scared and facing very real dangers.
I am dubious of 'legislation' in these instances but I do believe that the sailing community has a responsibility to discriminate in it's support of these, sometimes, ill conceived projects. To cheerlead despite obvious short comings of the project is irresponsible and, in the long term, does our sport no favours.
I think 13 is a bit too young for this type of adventure. If it was my daughter I would be saying no to something like that.
In the end it is up to the individual and her parents. If they are happy to take the chance then that is their call. The Dutch authorities don't agree. I read the story below after doing a search about Laura.
A panel of three Dutch judges has ruled that Laura's plan is "undeniably daring and risky" and has mandated that the teen under go psychological evaluation to determine her readiness for such a voyage. The state will maintain guardianship for two months, while she undergoes the evaluation to determine if she will be allowed to go after her dream of sailing solo around the world.
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