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Dutch court halts girl's solo sailing plans

  • Story Highlights
  • Laura Dekker, 13, wants to become youngest person to sail solo around globe
  • Dutch social workers say it is too dangerous and want to prevent her
  • Court ruled Child Protection Board to share custody of Laura with her parents
  • Move prevents the parents from permitting Laura to set off on her trip
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(CNN) -- A Dutch court intervened Friday to stop a 13-year-old girl from attempting to sail around the world by herself, stripping her parents of sole custody.

Laura Dekker will find out on Friday whether the Dutch Court will back her record attempt.

Laura Dekker will find out on Friday whether the Dutch Court will back her record attempt.

Laura Dekker's parents support her round-the-world ambition, which sparked concern from child protection officials because of her age. They took the case to court to prevent the solo trip.

On Friday the Dutch High Court in Utrecht ruled that the Child Protection Board will share custody over Laura with her parents for two months.

The move prevents the parents from permitting Laura to set off on her trip alone, though Laura will remain at home with her father, Dick Dekker, a court official said.

During those two months, a child psychologist will assess Laura's mental state and ability to carry out a solo round-the-world journey, a court official said. A guardian will be appointed to oversee the case until the court next meets Oct. 26.

The court will then make a final ruling on whether her parents may have the final say about their daughter's plans, the court official said. Is the court right to block her bid? Have your say below

Laura's parents are happy about Friday's decision, family lawyer Peter de Lange said. He said the parents are especially pleased that the court didn't prevent Laura from making the journey, because they hope she can still proceed with her plans.

The teenager was out sailing Friday, de Lange said. She is pleased with the decision and hopes she can still make a solo trip, he said.

Laura believes she will be able to convince the court that she is fit to make the trip alone, de Lange said.

Social workers took the action to stop the teen from attempting to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe because they believe the voyage would be too dangerous.

Laura said she has dreamed of sailing around the world since she was 10 and her parents are determined to help her achieve her goal. She called the attention that has been heaped on her case "a bit over the top."

Just this week, a British teenager became the youngest person to sail around the world solo when he returned to Britain after a nine-month trip. Guinness World Records confirmed the feat.

Mike Perham, 17, had a support team sailing alongside him during the trip. He said he doesn't think age alone should determine whether Laura Dekker is ready for such an adventure. It's "whether she's got the physical strength, the mental strength, or the technical ability," he said. "Can she strip an engine blindfolded? Can she build boats? Is she an electrician? Is she a mechanic as well? You can't just be a sailor for a trip like this."

Another sailor, Robin Knox-Johnston, also said age shouldn't be the only determining factor. He was the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone without stopping -- in 1969, when he was 29.

"It's really more a question, is that person, that young person, mature enough to be able to look after themselves and deal with everything that's going to come at you when you get out alone at sea?" he said.

Gold medal-winning Olympic sailor Shirley Robertson insisted that sailing is an experience-based sport and that Laura may not be ready for such a great challenge.

"Mike Perham has four years on Laura. That's a big difference," she told CNN.

"Mike had already completed challenges such as sailing across the Atlantic before embarking on his ultimate quest.

"There's a world of difference between sailing a small craft on the Ijsselmeer and sailing around the world with all the challenges that presents."

Robertson also pointed out that "we live in a culture of record-breaking and fame-seeking," with people constantly looking to be the youngest or quickest at anything.

"Why does she need to sail around the world on her own now? Why not sail with a parent first to gain more experience?"

CNN's Ashleigh Nghiem, Francesca Church and Paul Armstrong contributed to this story.

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