Hilary Lister, the quadriplegic sailor conquering the Indian Ocean

hilary-listerHilary Lister is a sailor known for her spirit of adventure. A quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, she came to the headlines when in 2005, at the age of 33, she crossed the English Channel solo in a special 27-foot boat that she was able to control by blowing and sucking into two small tubes. His solo circumnavigation of Britain aboard the 20-foot Artemis was in 2009.

Nashwa and Hilary aboard the trimaran

800 MILES FOR HILARY AND NASHWA
Today, Tuesday, March 11, he cast off his moorings for a new venture: the crossing from Bombay, India, to Muscat, Oman, aboard a 28-foot trimaran Dragonfly. It is an 800-mile sail: Hilary will be assisted by her assistant Lisa Blacklocks (a sailing laywoman) and Omani sailing instructor Nashwa Al Kindi (winner last November of the ISAF President Development Award for her achievements in promoting the sport of sailing). There will also be a fourth person on board, media crew member Niall Myant, who is strong with extensive ocean experience-Myant will not be able to help Hilary except in an emergency. Formally, there will be four of them, but navigation will be solely in the hands of Hilary and Nashwa. If the crossing is successful, a double record will be set: it will be the first to be completed by a severely paralyzed woman and the first by a female sailor of Arab descent.

TECHNOLOGY AT YOUR SIDE
“My longest offshore crew sailing,” Lister told Yachting World, “had lasted 72 hours. The Mumbai-Oman crossing will last, based on the weather window, about 9 days. The trimaran has been specially modified for Hilary’s needs: for example, all the winches work in both directions, allowing the sailor to let go and caulk by blowing and sucking in the tubes. “I don’t even need a self-tacking jib, with this system I can easily maneuver it by myself,” she said. Using an iPad/iPod interface developed by Raymarine, Hilary will be able to manage waypoints and course: “I use a long stick, with tinfoil wrapped around the end, to interact with the screen, which sends information to the instrumentation using the standard Wi-Fi connection.” It will not be easy sailing: “Especially in front of the Indian coast, where the sea is very busy and not all boats follow the rules of proper sailing, we will have to be careful.”


SEE HOW HILARY STEERS THE BOAT
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