Record-breaking sailor offers New Zealand world exposure
Record-breaking sailor offers New Zealand world exposure but no one is listening
When 15 year old sailor Laura Dekker arrives in Australia at the end of this month she will be on the brink of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo.
For New Zealanders, this should be personal. Not only is the young sailor a New Zealand citizen – having been born on her parents’ yacht in the port of Whangarei – but she’ll take the record from an Australian, which should bring a smile to the face of every Kiwi.
For Dekker, her Kiwi nationality is not taken lightly. She has embraced her birth-country since starting to feel disconnected from The Netherlands after the court in that nation stopped her from embarking on her trip at the age of 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.
“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,” said Dekker’s manager Lyall Mercer, an Australian.
“Laura has reached out to New Zealand and I am disappointed that no one appears interested. I believe that a young adventurer like Laura displays the adventurous Kiwi spirit that is acknowledged across the world.”
Mercer said there has been no interest from New Zealand’s media and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron refused to donate a flag because she was “not a member”. Even the Prime Minister’s office failed to respond despite two approaches.
He said as well as a flag, Dekker would love to visit New Zealand during her two week stopover in Darwin. “Laura has spoken about coming to New Zealand to live so she’s really serious about her Kiwi heritage. It would mean a lot to her to step onto New Zealand soil again.”
Mercer has appealed to New Zealand tourism authorities and private companies to contact him if they’d like to sponsor a visit or help in any other way. He said that unlike Jessica Watson’s voyage, Dekker’s is low-budget with only her father as the support team. “What she lacks in resources is made up by pure passion,” he said.