How one crew has learned to communicate with a deaf crewmate

The crew of BP Explorer have had an extra challenge on their hands during the build-up to the start of the race. They’ve all had to learn sign language in a major effort to help Charlotte New, who is profoundly deaf, cope with onboard communication.

“They’ve all been fantastic,” says Charlotte. “As part of a team everyone needs to be able to communicate and for team mates to learn specific sailing sign language, is a great team effort.”

Chatting to crewmember Tony Botterill about how the crew have coped with the adjustments, it seems they’ve actually had a lot of fun. “We have lots of special specific sailing signs,”explains Tony, “and everyone can now sail the boat without actually speaking.”

Part of the crew training aboard BP Explorer included sailing for a day with ear plugs. “It was amazing,” says Tony, “how much better the crew sailed the boat. Everyone concentrated on what they were doing, there was no shouting, and everything ran smoothly.”

Although Charlotte has been sailing all her life she is really excited about competing in the race and is thrilled that she’s the bowman. “They’ve given me the most dangerous job,” she says laughing, “but I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.”