Record breaking adventurer steers new course with young sailors

By Amelia Wade

Round-the-world solo sailor Laura Dekker hopes to get into Maritime School in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Round-the-world solo sailor Laura Dekker hopes to get into Maritime School in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The youngest person to sail around the world solo is going to teach Kiwi children.

Laura Dekker has taken up a role at the Maritime Museum in return for a free berth.

The New Zealand-born Dutch teen will arrive in Auckland today to take up her new home on the waterfront.

The 17-year-old has much to share with the nation's young sailors.

Laura said her record-breaking sea voyage taught her a lot, but there was one sentiment that stuck with her.

"If you really want to do something, you should just try it and go for it," she told the Herald.

Laura has been called a number of things since she first announced her plan to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed - brave, stubborn, self-absorbed, strong-willed and "a devil of a sailor".

The museum and Laura are still to agree on details, but it looks as if she'll give regular speeches every third Sunday. She'll also give presentations to children and school groups.

Laura doesn't particularly like public speaking, but has done enough over the years to know what she's doing. "It's okay, it's cool, I don't mind it," she said.

The museum is looking forward to having Laura on board - they said she's the perfect person to inspire young people to get out on the water.

"Children and adults can learn from her achievements that if you're really going to put your mind to something, you can achieve it," said Phil McGowan, the museum's marketing and events manager.

"And I do think what she's achieved is an amazing feat.

"Regardless of their age, I think anyone who puts themselves on the line and sails around the world solo has got to be incredibly passionate, committed, resourceful and brave."

The arrangement came about after Laura sent an email to the museum asking about any opportunities there. They agreed that Laura could dock her ketch, Guppy, at one of their berths if she would be involved in their education programmes.

The situation works perfectly for Laura - she hopes to take foundation studies at Unitec because she wants to get into Maritime School.

Laura said having down time after the media attention following the completion of her voyage has been "very nice". "I went to New York for a month and I've been organising stuff."

While she might be living on the water, there aren't any plans on her horizon for any more great adventures.

- NZ Herald

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