Update 10:20 pm EST: Dekker has finished her journey on the French side of St. Maarten. Congratulations to her and her team!
Earlier: Laura Dekker, a 16-year old Dutch sailor, has finished her circumnavigation of the globe, approaching the French-Dutch island of St. Maarten today. Dekker, aged 16 years, 4 months, broke Aussie Jessica Watson’s record set in 2010. Ms. Watson was nearly 17 when she completed her global voyage.
Dekker’s record will not be in the record books, though. Record-tracking powerhouse Guinness World Records stopped certifying ‘youngest’ records amid fears that it encouraged young people to do dangerous things.
Dekker’s finish comes after long, lonely days on the seas, and some controversy as well. Her first attempt at the circumnavigation was blocked by Dutch welfare authorities. On this voyage, reports were that she replaced the Dutch flag on her boat with the Kiwi flag after Dutch authorities were concerned about her level of schooling onboard. We have not been able to independently verify those reports, and there have been conflicting arguments about their validity.
Congratulations to Ms. Dekker on all her achievements and ambition! It is a remarkable thing that she has done and one that she should have been extremely proud of.