Teen sailor won't back documentary

21:09, Mar 16 2013
Laura Dekker
ON THE WATER: Laura Dekker after arriving at Auckland's Maritime Museum.

Solo teenage sailor Laura Dekker has refused to back a documentary about her epic round-the-world voyage.

Dekker, the youngest person to sail round the world solo, said she did not "fully stand behind" the documentary on her life.

Dekker, 17, who is living in Tutukaka, Northland, completed her circumnavigation of the world last year. She set out when she was just 14.

The achievement followed years of controversy, including a 10-month battle with the Dutch government, which believed the trip was unsafe for a teen, and tried to remove her from her father's custody.

She set sail in August 2010 from the Netherlands in her 38-foot ketch, Guppy, and arrived in St Martin, in the Caribbean on January 21 last year.

The film, Maidentrip, had its premiere last weekend at the South by Southwest technology and media festival in Austin, Texas, and will be shown at documentary festivals this autumn.

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It uses footage provided to the documentary maker from a Handycam which Dekker used to film herself on board Guppy.

In a blog on her website Dekker said: "I am not going to say much about the film Maidentrip, but I won't be representing it as I am not fully standing behind it."

She did not elaborate.

In an article on US-based Outside Online, documentary director Jillian Schlesinger said she approached Dekker in 2009 with the idea of making a documentary about the trip. She told the website she wanted the project to feel "organic and unscripted".

"I wanted to let her tell her own story, and give her a voice.

"I was really interested in finding out why, as a 14-year-old, she wanted to do this. She had no interest in being famous. She really just loves to sail."

Outside Online said Maidentrip documented Dekker's 17 months alone at sea. It also showed images of Dekker as a child.

"There was no chase boat, support staff, or film crew. Laura shot all of the footage aboard Guppy herself, using a Sony Handycam she rigged to the boat," the article said.

Schlesinger spent three years working on Maidentrip, her first film.

She met Dekker nine times during her journey.

Dekker is studying towards her divemaster's certificate and working for Dive Tutukaka.

Sunday Star Times