Hilary Lister has become first female quadriplegic to sail solo around the Isle of Wight 25/7/07

Hilary Lister, 35, the first quadriplegic to sail solo across the English Channel exactly two years ago, has become the first female quadriplegic to sail solo around the Isle of Wight. Lister, who is able to move only her head and neck, used a ‘sip-puff’ method of steering to control her boat, by breathing down two straws enabling her to steer and adjust the sails.

Hilary crossed the start line off Cowes at 0812 (BST) yesterday (Tuesday 24 July) in her ‘Artemis 20’, a 20ft racing boat named ‘Me Too’. She covered an incredible 50 miles in 11 hours, 4 minutes and 22 seconds, sailing at an average speed of ten knots. Crossing the finish line at 19.20 (BST) an exhausted but jubilant Lister was overjoyed to have completed this important prologue to her solo sail Round Britain next summer, a dream she declared at the finish of her cross Channel record.

Hilary Lister commented: “It has been an incredible day; I surpassed even my own expectations during this marathon solo sail. Sailing round the Isle of Wight is much further and more complex than across the Channel, which was only 22 miles compared to today’s 50 miles, over double the distance, and round lots of corners! My new Artemis 20 was an absolute dream to sail. This was the boats first real test since she was fitted with a unique ‘sip puff’ system which allows me to control the boat with just my breath. It’s a long way to go until I will be ready to attempt my ‘Round Britain Dream’ next summer, when I will circumnavigate Britain stopping off at various ports along the way. Today has been a really important milestone. I’d like to thank my project manager Kels Gilkison and logistics managers Ailsa Angus, who are funded by my long-time supporter Pindar, for getting me to this point and continuing to support me in all that I do.”

Hilary will now continue her training for her ‘Round Britain Dream’, including her search for support which will enable her to achieve this dream. Hilary intends to set up a charity which will aim to helping disadvantaged and disabled people to get out on the water and experience the thrill of sailing, whilst showing that disabled people can live challenging and exciting lives.