Quadriplegic sailor will set off from Cornwall to Wales using the 'Sip and Puff' system

Quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister, who is sailing solo around Britain, is due to arrive in Wales tomorrow (Wednesday 3 June), after setting off from Cornwall for what is the longest sail of her solo challenge. Hilary is planning to arrive at Hobbs Point, Pembroke, at some time between 03:00 and 06:00 depending on the conditions.

The around Britain challenge began on 16 June 2008, when Hilary set off from Dover aided by a team of four support boat crew and three land crew. In August, due to hold ups caused mainly by worsening weather, skipper and team reluctantly decided to postpone the rest of the journey. But to date, this is the furthest that any female disabled sailor has sailed, and is an amazing achievement in itself.

So how does she do it?

Hilary’s Boat ‘Me Too’ is an Artemis 20; a 6m carbon fibre keelboat, designed by Rogers Yacht Design under commission by Chichester based VizualMarine. Hilary controls the boat using a ‘Sip and Puff’ system, developed by Steve Alvey of Calgary, Canada. The system uses three straws, which are connected to sensitive pressure switches. The computer is mounted in front of Hilary. A gentle ‘sip’ on one straw will cause the boat to go to starboard, whilst a ‘puff’ will take the boat 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. For more information visit www.hilarylister.com .

Surprisingly, Hilary has had to overcome financial challenges this year to be able to fund the Round Britain project and is still searching for a major sponsor. It’s aim is not only to inspire and raise awareness of disabled sailing, but to raise funds for Hilary’s charity – Hilary’s Dream Trust – which exists to provide assistance to disabled and disadvantaged adults with sailing dreams.

Hilary will be looking to raise money throughout the round Britain sail and all funds raised in excess of those required to cover the costs of the project will go to the charity. For more information, or to make a donation, contact Paul Taroni: paul@hilarylister.com