Hats off to Hilary Lister and Geoff Holt


Telltales has nothing but admiration for two quadriplegic British sailors refusing to let their disabilities get in the way of their sport.

Hilary Lister, a 37 year old quadriplegic from Kent, is attempting for the second time a circumnavigation of Britain – her Round Britain Dream . She hopes to set out from Plymouth at the end of May, and aims to become the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain.

Hilary, who is only able to move her head, sailed into the record books on August 23, 2005, when she crossed the Channel solo. Since then Hilary has become the first disabled sailor to sail solo around the Isle of Wight and the first disabled woman to sail the length of the south coast.

Hilary’s BoatMe Toois an Artemis 20, a 6m carbon fibre keelboat. Hilary controls the boat using a ‘Sip and Puff’ system that uses three straws connected to sensitive pressure switches. A gentle ‘sip’ on one straw will send the boat to go to starboard, a ‘puff’ will take her to port. The second straw controls the winch motor for both sails in a similar fashion. The third straw allows Hilary to control her Raymarine autopilot, to trim one sail relative to the other and raise or lower the height of the boom.

Hilary was forced to postpone her sail around Britain last year when she and the team hit bad weather, but is determined to complete the sail this year. Her aim is to raise money for her charity, Hilary’s Dream Trust, which aims to help other disabled and disavantaged adults to achieve their sailing dreams.

Meanwhile, the first quadriplegic yachtsman to sail solo around Britain has now set his sights on an Atlantic Challenge .

Geoff Holt, 43, broke his neck when he dived into shallow water at the age of 18. He said: ‘I last sailed the Atlantic just before my accident.’

Geoff will leave the Solent for the Canary Islands at the end of October, departing for Tortola at the beginning of December. He will sail the 60ft catamaranImpossible Dreamsinglehanded, but will have a personal assistant alongside him to help with day-to-day tasks like getting out of his wheelchair and having a shower.