Jessica Watson
Jessica Watson Jay Cronan

Jess's solo record not in danger

JESSICA Watson's solo sailing record will stand, despite a Dutch teenager's triumphant return to land on the weekend.

Laura Dekker completed her 518-day solo journey around the globe on Saturday.

At eight months younger than Jessica, it makes her the unofficial youngest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

But while she is claiming a record, Jessica's supporters say the pair made two very different solo treks.

In 2010 Jessica completed a non-stop, unassisted solo circumnavigation record attempt in 210 days, just days before her 17th birthday.

Her mentor and fellow solo sailor, Bruce Arms said Laura's trip was completely different and claims the Dutch teenager completed a much "easier" route.

"She is by age the youngest person to sail solo around the world however, she did so stopping at ports along the way," Mr Arms said.

"She had time to recuperate and fix her yacht and wait out the weather if need be, which is completely different to the trip Jess took."

Jessica's route was less than 21,000 nautical miles, whereas Laura claims to have travelled about 27,000.

"By stopping at ports along the way it has made her (Laura's) trip longer," Mr Arms said.

"On a whole she only spent about three weeks out at sea."

Despite that, Mr Arms said he applauded the teenager and she was a "great little sailor".

"There weren't many sailors who could complete what she did," he said.

"But you can't compare the two girls' trips as the same journey as she (Laura) didn't sail non-stop."

Laura waved and cried as she sailed her ketch Guppy to a dock in the Caribbean island of St Martin on Saturday, a year and a day after she left.

Despite her website claiming she is the youngest person to sail around the world, neither the Guinness Book of Records nor the World Speed Sailing Record Council recognise records for youngest sailors, to discourage dangerous attempts.

Dutch officials tried to block her trip, arguing she was too young.

"Today is the last time that my days start in an endless valley of waves and end in an endless valley of waves," she wrote in a recent post on her website.

"I am looking forward to my arrival. I will have fresh food, I will take a walk or even a little sprint and I will be with my family again."

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


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