Quadriplegic lands prestigious award after Atlantic crossing

Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic, has been named the Yachting Journalists Association Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year.

Holt, 44, received a two-minute standing ovation after he collected his award from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (pictured above right), the only three-time recipient of the title.

In his 60ft carbon catamaran, Impossible Dream, Holt set sail from Lanzarote last December and arrived in the British Virgin Islands on January 7.

He finished his voyage at Cane Garden Bay, the beach where he broke his neck diving into shallow water in 1984, paralysing him from the chest down.

He was joined onboard by film maker Digby Fox and carer Susana Scott, but he sailed the boat unaided.

geoff holt

When his nomination for the award was announced in November as he collected an MBE, Holt said: ‘Given the choice between an MBE and Yachtsman of the Year, I think I would choose YOTY award every time.

‘Tens of thousands of people receive MBEs but more people have walked on the moon than received the YOTY Award – it is the ultimate accolade in our sport because it is voted for by the people who matter most, the yachting journalists themselves, all of them experienced yachtsmen; it’s more like a “Knighthood of sailing” than an award.’

He was previously nominated for the award in 2007, after he became the first quadriplegic to sail around Britain, and his next goal is to sail circumnavigate the globe.

The other nominees were Finn world champion Ed Wright and ladies world match racing champion Lucy McGregor.

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