Jessica Watson older and wiser after yacht crash
Two weeks for repair
Repairs start on teen solo sailor's yacht | Herald Sun
Here you go artfull
Jessica Watson - youngest ever to sail around the world
The nice thing about this media and money fueled process is that it can go on in incrementally more and more steps so it never has to end.
The youngest to solo climb Mt. Everest
The youngest to solo cave dive 160 meters deep in the sump "Divjak"
The youngest to row across the Atlantic
The youngest sky diver
So the quest for fame and fortune (Jessica has a media consulting group) will compel an endless stream of younger and younger children to attempt more and more dangerous news worthy stunts with no end in sight.
Of course there is a predictable end. Some of the children will die. Once that happens the media will make its money with breathless reports and endless analysis.
Or of course thoughtful reasonably prudent people could just decide that prudent seamanship requires at least the maturity to enter into a legal contract before ocean crossing's.
The lure of big money and fame however will most likely win out over prudence and we will have to work our way though the inevitable media cycle to its inevitable conclusion.
In contract, almost the opposite extreme is Lin and Larry Pardee's attitude. I can't find the reference, I've looked. They don't carry any means to send a distress signal because I'm paraphrasing. "We have been doing this for over 50 years and are supposed to know what we are doing. We do this because we want to and take every precaution to be prepared to take care of ourselves. If we get into trouble that we can't handle ourselves we don't want to risk the life of some 25 year old coasty to save our wrinkled old butts."
I'm not sure I agree with their attitude either but wow what a contrast in accepting responsibility for ones-self and respecting others even paid professionals.
Laws will eventually have to be passed. It should be pretty simple to discourage if not prevent because if a skipper is too young to legally enter into a contract it should be rather easy to deny the boat access to ports. I'm not advocating laws I'm just saying it seems like the money pressure will require them.
It is not that much different than the need for steroid laws. The money pressure was so great the athletes were willing to ruin their health to the point of death. The only solution was laws.