Global Challenge girl Abi Shoebridge tackles problems others would find insurmountable - and that's before she has even set sail

Deaf girl Abi Shoebridge is going to teach sign language to the Global Challenge crew she hopes to sail with in her bid for a passage round the world.

Abi,28, arrived at the Southampton Boat Show to announce her strategy in between raising the cash required by Challenge Business to pay for her berth in 2004.

The plucky woman has already sailed to the Azores and Lisbon as part of her induction for the Global Challenge and has raised 14,000 (pounds sterling) towards her dream.

Abi, from Sholing, Southampton, was born deaf but has an indomitable spirit and no-one doubts that come November 2004 she will be aboard the boat which will take her on the next Global Challenge.

But she still needs to raise 17,000 (pounds sterling) to pay for the berth. That does not include the 2,500 (pounds sterling) she needs to find for EACH water-proof hearing-aid which help her at least sense, albeit in a severely muffled form, loud laughter and shouted commands.

Abi is an highly intelligent and humourous young woman who goes about the soul-destroying and sometimes humiliating task of having to ask people for money ,with verve, courage and wit.

‘Because of my communication difficulties people think I am stupid or lazy and that is why I have had so much trouble trying to get a job. I hope that having proved myself by sailing around the world in this very tough race I may be worth having as an employee,’ Abi told YM.

Already Abi, who suffered a severe cut to her left hand while crushing rubbish on her Azores passage when she sliced it on a tin, is making waves.

Dr Simon Hickey, who administered four stitches to her hand and baby finger said: ‘I have a new insight into deaf people and I hope I help them cope better in the future.’