No support for teen sailor, manager says

Fifteen year-old Laura Dekker was born in New Zealand, but her manager says she has got little support from this country as she attempts to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo. Photo / AP
Fifteen year-old Laura Dekker was born in New Zealand, but her manager says she has got little support from this country as she attempts to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo. Photo / AP

New Zealand is being accused of failing to support a teen sailor attempting to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo.

Dutch girl Laura Dekker, 15, was born on her parents' yacht when it was docked in Whangarei, making her a New Zealand citizen.

She began what is expected to be a two-year trip last August and will arrive in Australia for a two-week stopover at the end of this month.

Her manager, Australian Lyall Mercer, today Dekker did not take her New Zealand nationality lightly and had especially embraced it since starting to feel "disconnected" from The Netherlands after courts there stopped her from embarking on her trip when she was 13.

"Yet she has failed to find any support from New Zealand, unable even to source a New Zealand flag that she wants to fly from her boat 'Guppy' for the duration of her trip," Mercer said.

"I am surprised that a country so focused on tourism seems to want nothing to do with an opportunity for a record-breaking sailor to fly the New Zealand flag across the world."

Dekker had "reached out" to New Zealand but no one appeared interested, he said.

"I believe that a young adventurer like Laura displays the adventurous Kiwi spirit that is acknowledged across the world."

- NZPA

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