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December 20th, 2009

Dutch Teenager Blocked from Solo Sailing Disappears

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old Dutch girl whose bid to sail solo around the world was blocked by a court, has gone missing, leaving behind her boat, police said Sunday. Her goal is to set the record as the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

In October, Utrecht District Court refused her attempt to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world, and placed her under the supervision of child care authorities until next July.

Dutch authorities have alerted neighboring countries to monitor airports.

Dekker has joint Dutch and New Zealand citizenship because she was born on a yacht in New Zealand waters. She said earlier this year she might try to go there if Dutch authorities refused to let her sail.

The Utrecht court first blocked her departure in August out of concern for her safety. The decision sparked a worldwide debate on how much authorities and parents should limit children’s freedom to undertake risky adventures.

Laura’s parents, both veteran sailors, are separated. Laura’s father supported the attempt but her mother said in a newspaper interview in September she thought Laura was too young.

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