MIDDELBURG, Netherlands — Dutch judges on Thursday extended a ban delaying a 14-year-old schoolgirl's bid to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.
The district court at Middelburg in the southwestern Netherlands ruled that the safety risks for Laura Dekker were still too high.
It granted an application by child protection services to keep Dekker under their supervision for an extra month until August 1.
"Not enough attention has been paid to the court's concerns for her social-emotional and identity development," said judge Suzanne Kuypers.
"The court is of the opinion that it is in the interests of the child to extend the supervision."
Dekker needs to complete the two-year trip before she turns 17 on September 20, 2012 to make the record. Her father, Dick Dekker, supports her bid.
Her lawyer, Peter de Lange, described the ruling as "a dark day for the Dutch legal system".
"What does one have to do in this country to be allowed to execute one's plans?" he asked, adding the girl's father was "very disappointed". He said he had not yet spoken to Laura.
In May, Australia's Jessica Watson became the youngest person at 16 to sail around the world non-stop, solo and unassisted. But last week, a US teenager on a similar mission was plucked from her stricken yacht in the Indian Ocean.
De Lange said Dekker still hoped to beat Watson's record "even if it is by one day", adding she could shorten her trip by making fewer stops.
"We are still hoping she can make it, but it is becoming harder to be optimistic. She wants to leave as soon as possible."
Dekker had prepared "fanatically" to allay the court's concerns, the lawyer added, describing how she had obtained a first aid diploma, registered with a distance education facility to continue her schooling at sea, gained solo sailing experience and learned sleep management techniques.
"She even bought a new boat: a bigger, safer boat with more instruments," with the help of sponsors, he said.
Judge Kuypers ordered another hearing to be held on July 20 to get the opinion of a sailing expert, an update on the teenager's emotional well-being, and to study a full plan for her trip.
The supervision could be extended by a further month after that hearing.
Dekkers' plans to set sail last September were thwarted by the intervention of child care officials and a subsequent court ruling placing her under their supervision until July 1, when the school year ends.
In December, she breached the court order, running away to the Dutch Caribbean island territory of Sint Maarten (St. Martin). Police had to escort her back home.
An appeals court in May, citing "great and unacceptable risks", upheld the first ruling, saying Dekkers' father "has a limited appreciation of the risks involved" and "overestimates" her abilities.
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