How Young Is Too Young To Sail Around The World?: Maidentrip

01/15/2014 4:00 AM |

Directed by Jillian Schlesinger

Whatever you were doing as a 14-year-old pales in comparison to what Laura Dekker was doing: sailing around the globe by herself. She began the trip when she was 14, and more than 500 days and 27,000 nautical miles later, she’d become the youngest person in history ever to do so. But record-breaking wasn’t her inspiration: she just wanted to know if she could do it. She made headlines all across the world while people argued the legality of her trip without even taking into consideration the fact that she already had a decade’s worth of experience. One of these headlines was Prospect Lefferts Garden-based director Jillian Schlesinger’s New York Times op-ed, “How Young Is Too Young To Sail Around The World?” But still the most fundamental question remained unanswered: how does Laura feel about all this? Schlesinger tracked her down, equipped her with cameras, and the result is Maidentrip, a video diary of extraordinarily globetrotting proportions.

One of the first things you learn about the nautically intrepid teenager is that Holland, where she then lived, took 10 months in court to try and end the parentally approved journey before it’d even begun—attempting, among other things, to get Dekker thrown into a psych ward and to revoke her parents’ custody. Born in transit in New Zealand to parents who were themselves in the middle of a global sea voyage, Dekker had wanderlust coursing through her veins from infancy. Through her exhilarating footage, you see an adolescent struggling with the things we all did at that age, namely resenting authority and searching for a still nascent identity. The film’s charm and success rests squarely on Dekker acting her age throughout, even though she’s ultimately doing something very dangerous, trying, and heroic. It’s a mostly smooth trip, except for a stormy stretch through the Indian Ocean, when it appears Dekker might be in crisis mode. Thunder rolls and the ocean crashes on, alongside, and into the 38-foot boat, Guppy. Dekker’s response? “It’s really cool to see how the boat figures its way through the waves.”

Opens January 17