Can't participate in this poll because the alternatives don't relate to each other. If it had been sailing experience and even then ...
What I don't like is that this is a competition to see who can be the youngest to solo around the world. If the kids really want to sail around the world -- solo or in groups -- that's fine with me so long as they don't endanger others. Let them just sail off quietly and get it done or not. However, that's not what's happening.
I just wonder how much of this is the desire to make the sail and how much is the desire to set a record and become famous. Also how much is it the influence of the parents -- an before you say no way, think on those morons who sent their kid up in a home-made balloon so they could have a better shot at getting on a reality show.
And where does it stop -- 12, 10 , 8... I could see a totally automated boat with a really well-designed expert system being operated by an 8-year-old who is good at video games. With luck he or she could make it around the world.
As for government interference. Well the Coast Guard folk can keep a boat in port if they think it can't handle the weather. But even so it seems that only in the Laura Dekker case did the government interfere. But what do you expect them to do? This case has had wide publicity. If the government didn't act and something went wrong, they would be crucified. So they took the safe way out.
As for teenagers adapting more easily than adults, I'm not at all sure that's true. I don't feel like searching the web for facts and figures, but from raising teenagers I really wonder. We raised five children, three boys and two girls --all of whom are now adults , married with successful careers -- and as teenagers, none of them handled major changes at all well. It may be that young people don't have the base of life knowledge -- the been there, done that -- to fall back on when facing change. Or may be our kids were just an exception.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
S/V Enchantress -- Morgan 45